Originally created 07/04/06

Extradition in murder case might take years



GREENVILLE, S.C. - It could take three to four years for South Carolina to extradite from Canada the man accused of killing an Easley pawn shop owner, one of the man's attorneys says.

Attorney Clemente Monterosso said he is waiting for the U.S. Justice Department to file an extradition request for Roger Eugene Shephard, 21.

The former Wren High School student sought the protection of Canadian authorities because he could face the death penalty if he is returned to the United States and convicted of killing 65-year-old John Bruin at Action Pawn shop.

Since 2001, Canada has asked prosecutors to promise not to seek the death penalty before sending fugitives back to the United States, said Chris Girouard, a spokesman for the Canadian Department of Justice.

Because Mr. Shephard filed for refugee status, he cannot be deported, leaving the United States with no other option but to pursue extradition. A hearing on that effort will be held July 10.

Mr. Monterosso said extradition takes an average of three to four years, sometimes more.

However, Canadian Minister of Justice Vic Toews has the final say in extradition, and he has been critical of Canada's soft stance on fugitives from the United States.

"Mr. Toews went on record making some very negative comments ... and he made some comments about Canada becoming a haven for murderers," said Andrew Barbacki, a Canadian criminal lawyer. "Now people are nervous that he would in fact authorize either extradition or deportation ... for a death penalty case."

Marie Helene Giroux, Mr. Shephard's extradition lawyer, said she will appeal a decision that goes against her client.

"Our goal is not to prevent extradition," Ms. Giroux said. "Our goal is to make sure that extradition is done according to Canadian law. One of our obligations is that extradition should not be granted to face the death penalty, and we feel very strongly about this."

The Pickens County prosecutor's office says it has completed the necessary paperwork to have Mr. Shephard extradited and no mention of the death penalty has been made in connection with his case.

Surveillance video from June 15 shows a man talking to Mr. Bruin before pulling out a gun and shooting him in the chest. The man then puts some guns and other items into a bag and leaves, police said.

Mr. Shephard was arrested two days later in Montreal.