The sentencing of the man who was convicted of killing a Port Alberni nurse will take longer than expected.
In Port Alberni Supreme Court, Justice McKinnon was poised to render a sentence to Kim Winslow Rothgordt, who last week was found guilty of second degree murder in the 2008 killing of James Shannon.
But in a surprise announcement, defense attorney Ray Dieno told the court that Rothgordt discharged him as legal counsel, and that he was no longer acting on Rothgordt’s behalf.
Dieno advised that an adjournment be sought because of Rothgordt’s mental state.
“He’s suffering from mental health issues today,” Dieno said.
Rothgordt had attempted to commit suicide three times since the trial started.
“There’s a very real possibility that it will happen again,” Dieno said.
Provincial prosecutor Gordon Baines apprised the court that the prosecution was ready to proceed with the sentencing.
Justice McKinnon asked Dieno if Rothgordt was not mentally competent enough to make a decision today.
Dieno replied that this was correct.
The only issue to be decided was that of parole, as a second degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The judge was to decide at what point Rothgordt would be eligible for parole.
But citing “an abundance of caution”, McKinnon consented to a two-month adjournment to allow Rothgordt to consult with new counsel.
“I very much regret this but I see no other way of doing this,” McKinnon said.
Wearing a blue t-shirt and blue pants, the strapping Rothgordt stood stoically in the prisoner’s box with his arms folded in front of him during the proceeding.
In a quavering tone of voice that belied his stern demeanor Rothgordt told the court “I’m not trying to delay the inevitable,” and admitted that he wasn’t in a position to make a decision.
Outside the courtroom Baines said that Rothgordt’s move was an unusual one, but that justice will be served.
There are no parameters on the time it takes to find a new counsel and fix a new date for sentencing, Baines said.
Nevertheless “Crown will insist on the earliest possible date.”
“This is a delay in justice being done,” he added.
“But it’s not going to affect the time he ultimately serves in prison.”
Rothgordt’s next court appearance is March 21.