The alleged ringleader of a trio charged with instigating a wild police shootout on Westside Road last year has fired his lawyer and wants to delay his preliminary hearing.
Michael Edward Ellis, 40, asked a judge to adjourn the three-week hearing, which starts Nov. 25, because he disagreed with his lawyer's handling of the case and wants a new one from Victoria. Ellis appeared in court by video Wednesday to say Legal Aid has yet to approve the transfer.
"We're going to have to reschedule (the hearing)," he said.
Judge Anne Wallace said finding three weeks of new court time could take six months. An adjournment would force Ellis and Shawn Adam Wysynski, who's also in custody, to wait behind bars well into next year for the hearing to begin.
"Mr. Wysynski is going to sit and wait another six months in custody because you've decided to wait and have another prelim?" Wallace said. "You can't just casually say 'oh well we have to get another three-week trial date.'"
"It's not a trial ma'am. It's a preliminary inquiry," Ellis said.
"Thank-you for correcting me."
The inquiry will determine if there's enough evidence for a trial. The two men and Ashley Collins, 19, are charged with three counts of attempted murder, using restricted weapons and robbery. Collins is out on bail.
The trio are accused of car-jacking several vehicles and firing at patrol cars as they tried to elude police in a frenzied chase through West Kelowna on July 31, 2012. No officer was killed in the hour-long pursuit, but at least five were taken off duty to recover from the stress.
One Mountie was calling for help on his radio as a gunman allegedly fired at him from a pickup truck following his vehicle. Police said the driver tried to run him off Westside Road.
Collins, then 18, was shot in the back as she rode in the box of a stolen pickup truck along Westside Road with RCMP driving behind. She had a kidney removed but has recovered.
Dressed in red prison garb, Ellis argued he and Kelowna lawyer Joe Gordon had a falling out. He said he plans to retain John Gustafson's firm, which has represented him at previous trials.
"They specialize in dangerous offenders; that's why I'm going with them," Ellis said.
The judge scolded him for keeping Gordon as his lawyer for more than a year and wanting new counsel when he has too little time to prepare for the hearing.
"To wait until you decide you're going to switch lawyers at that point in time does not seem very diligent," Wallace said.
"I was a little bit misinformed . . . Mr. Gordon and I don't see eye to eye on this and that's why we're switching."
The judge adjourned the case to next week so Ellis can formally apply for a new hearing. She asked lawyers for Wysynski and Collins to be there and, if Gustafson isn't yet retained, a Legal Aid lawyer to represent Ellis.
"We're going to have an appeal on our hands if we proceed without Mr. Ellis having counsel on an attempt-murder charge," she said.