Sarnia double homicide suspect moves to third attorney in less than a year

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As the year-long mark nears when police uncover two bodies in Sarnia and rural Lambton County, the Sarnia man, who faces two murder charges, has hired his third alternate attorney.

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Matthew Theriault, 43, was Charged at the end of December 2021 with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of indignation on a body after the remains of two Greater Toronto Area men were found. The longtime carpenter from Sarnia hired local criminal attorney Terry Brandon shortly after his arrest, but let her go a few months later amid various frustrations — many beyond Brandon’s control — and hired Raymond Boggs, a Vaughan-based criminal attorney.

But last month Theriault abruptly fired Boggs, though he didn’t say why or who he wanted to hire.

Confusion arose two weeks ago when Brandon told the court Theriault called her right after Boggs was fired and asked her to be there that day, but duty attorney David Burns also told the court he had instructions from Robert DiPietro from Windsor, who claimed Theriault had hired him – a move Brandon was unaware of. Theriault, a member of Carpenters Local 1256 for more than two decades, was undecided at the time about who he wanted to represent him.

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Matthew Theriault (Facebook)
Matthew Theriault (Facebook)

But during his most recent appearance Thursday in a virtual Sarnia courtroom at the South West Detention Center near Windsor, duty attorney Sarah Edgar said she had direction from another Windsor-based criminal defense attorney, Daniel Scott. Scott asked that the case be adjourned to Jan. 9 to receive disclosure and possibly attend a pretrial with prosecutors, Edgar said.

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Theriault, wearing orange prison uniforms, said nothing more and abruptly walked away while Justice of the Peace Pauline Bessegato was in the process of adjourning the case until early next month. But Scott, a colleague of DiPietro’s, confirmed via email Friday that he was retained by Theriault.

The body of Mississauga resident Lance Richardson, 31, was found in a home on Watson Street on Dec. 28, 2021, and the remains of a second person were discovered about 25 miles east in the farming community of Lambton County in Enniskillen Township, police said with. Jelani Byer-Coates, 18, from Ajax was finally identified as the second deceased.

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Lance Richardson (obituary)
Lance Richardson (obituary)

No details were released about causes of death, possible weapons or what brought the men to Sarnia-Lambton from the Toronto area. Police have generally been silent on the investigation, which began as a complaint from a suspect in a separate area of ​​Lambton County, except to say investigators believe the two deaths are linked.

Theriault, who lived on Watson Street, has been in jail since his arrest last year for failing to seek bail.

Sarnia Police vehicles, including a command centre, line Watson Street, near London Road, as criminal and forensic officers investigate a death in late December 2021.  At the same time, a second death inquiry was being conducted in Enniskillen Township.  (Paul Morden/Postmedia Network)
Sarnia Police vehicles, including a command centre, line Watson Street, near London Road, as criminal and forensic officers investigate a death in late December 2021. At the same time, a second death inquiry was being conducted in Enniskillen Township. (Paul Morden/Postmedia Network)

Since 2020, 17 murder investigations have been conducted in Sarnia-Lambton, resulting in 27 charges of first or second degree murder.

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