Ernie (Junior) Ross Duggan, 49, is accused of first-degree murder in the death late Sunday night of Susan (Susie) Butlin, 59, at her home on Clarkes Road in Bayhead.
Duggan did not appear at his initial court hearing on Thursday because he is still being treated at the QEII Hospital in Halifax for wounds he received during an exchange of gunfire with the RCMP early Monday morning.
Defence lawyer Pat Atherton appeared on his behalf via a video conferencing link.
“When I visited Mr. Duggan he was clearly still requiring medical attention,” Atherton said.
Crown attorney Alison Brown said that based on her information Duggan is expected to be released from hospital “in the very near future.”
But “he certainly is not being released from custody,” she said.
Duggan is also charged with attempted murder against several RCMP members because of an alleged standoff between him and the police at the Lockerbie Memorial Cemetery in Tatamagouche.
The RCMP pursued Duggan to that location shortly after Butlin’s body was found in her home, just before midnight Sunday, after police responded to a 911 call from the residence.
Court documents show that she had recently applied for a peace bond against Duggan and had felt “threatened” by him after he had made sexual demands of her when he allegedly showed up at her home in a drunken state on July 2.
A close friend has also told a reporter with the Chronicle Herald that she had unsuccessfully reached out to the RCMP for protection from Duggan three days before her death.
“She was sleeping with a baseball bat next to her bed and she was scared to death,” friend Suzanne Davis said in an interview with a Herald reporter.
An RCMP spokesperson said he could not comment on that complaint because of the ongoing investigation.
Duggan is currently being held in custody at the hospital by Correctional Services.
Individuals charged with first-degree murder are automatically held in remand unless they are released on bail by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Brown said Duggan will have the right to apply for release at his upcoming court hearing, if should he chose to do so. But at this point in the police investigation, “it’s too premature for us to take any position” regarding any potential bid for release, she said.
“We’re at the very early stages. We have to review what evidence we have thus far, look at any proposed plan of release, so I can’t comment on that at this time.”