Man charged with murder may be unfit for trial

Alex Conte will be sent for psychiatric assessment

  • Jan. 18, 2012 2:00 p.m.

Erin McCracken

Black Press

The man accused of the second-degree murder of 53-year-old Sarah Nickerson is now working his way through the legal system.

Alex Conte, 21, appeared via video conferencing in a Victoria courtroom Thursday morning, January 12, from the Vancouver Island Regional Correction Centre in Saanich.

A publication ban enacted at the start of the court proceedings protects much of what was discussed before provincial court Judge Susan Wishart.

Wishart scheduled Conte to appear by video conferencing at the Western Communities Courthouse in Colwood on Jan. 19 at 10:30 a.m.

In the meantime the Sooke man will be assessed by a forensic psychiatrist “to see whether he is grounded in reality to retain and instruct counsel,” Conte’s defence lawyer, Bill Heflin, told the Sooke News Mirror outside the courtroom. If fit, he will go through the regular trial process.

Wearing a dark-coloured vest-like garment, Conte sat through the proceedings on a bench. His bare arms were constrained behind his back while he faced the camera.

The accused’s dark blonde hair was mussed, and facial hair covered his jaw line.

Conte spoke only a few words when answering questions posed by his lawyer.

Sooke RCMP officers responded to a 911 call for help that came in on Sunday (Jan. 8) at 3:30 p.m. from a mobile home in the Park Village community of Sooke, at 2615 Otter Point Rd.

Upon their arrival, investigators found a woman’s body. Conte was arrested at the scene.

Investigators remain tight-lipped about the case, though they have said the victim and accused were known to each other. The nature of their relationship was initially kept under wraps but it is known that the victim was Conte’s mother.

Police have said the accused is known to them.

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit is leading the investigation, with support from the Sooke RCMP detachment.

Forensic identification specialists wrapped up their work at the crime scene by Thursday morning, Cpl. Annie Linteau, media relations officer with the RCMP’s E Division said, adding that police have since vacated the premises.

Conte, who attended Edward Milne Community School, is known for his skateboarding abilities as a teen.

This is the first homicide of 2012 on the Island.

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