PICTOU – A Pictou County man accused of murdering and kidnapping Amber Kirwan will make his first appearance in Supreme Court next month.
Following the completion of his preliminary inquiry Tuesday, Christopher Alexander Falconer, 30, has been committed to stand trial in Supreme Court before a judge and jury on charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of 19-year-old Kirwan.
He will return to Supreme Court in Pictou on March 21 to select a trial date.
Kirwan went missing from downtown New Glasgow on Oct. 9, 2011, and her remains were found in Heathbell a month later.
Crown attorney Bill Gorman said whereas the inquiry was held over a course of 10 days, the trial could take about a month to complete.
"In terms of timeline, we are looking at January or February 2014," he said.
He added the preliminary inquiry went smoothly with no surprises and he is confident the Crown's evidence will result in a first-degree murder conviction.
Gorman and his co-counsel, Patrick Young, called 26 witnesses during the 10-day inquiry. A publication ban prohibits the publication of evidence or the identification of witnesses.
The courtroom galley was full during the morning session of the inquiry Tuesday. There were members from both the Kirwan and Falconer families listening to the last day of testimony.
Defence lawyer Mike Taylor said he wasn't surprised by anything he heard in the inquiry, but it was a good opportunity for him to review evidence and see witnesses in person.
He said he has spoken to his client about the court process and the lengthy amount of time it takes to move through it.
"He is OK under the circumstances," he said.
Taylor added he has concerns about the amount of attention this case has attracted over the course of nearly a year and a half.
"I am not saying Pictou County can't be fair and I don't believe that will be the case, but there has to be some concern about an impartial jury because of the high level of publicity and the history of the entire situation," he said.
Taylor said he isn't ruling out asking for a change of venue or other legal applications that will ensure his client a fair trial.
"Change of venue is a possibility and so is challenge for cause," he said.
Falconer has been remanded back to a federal institution, where he is currently serving time for a parole violation, until his next court appearance.