Preliminary inquiry dates have been set for a pair of Yellowknife men charged with murder in the November death of a longtime city taxi driver.
James Schiller, 49, and Elias Schiller, 18, were arrested and charged after Ahmed Mahamud Ali, a City Cab driver of more than 20 years known affectionately as Uncle Ahmed , was pronounced dead in the early hours of Nov. 19 after being found unconscious inside his cab outside of Stanton Territorial Hospital.
The two men, who have been in custody at North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC) since their arrests, appeared via video in NWT territorial court Tuesday, where dates for preliminary inquiries were scheduled for both of the accused.
Preliminary hearings are held in order to see if the Crown has enough evidence to bring the matter to trial. In testing the strength of the Crown’s case, a defendant can then be ordered to stand trial following the hearing.
Both James and Elias’ matters were effectively combined in court on Tuesday, meaning they will sit together for the same preliminary inquiry.
Both men are due back in court on May 1 for day one of the hearing in Yellowknife, which is expected to take a full day. A second block of dates in September – Sept. 25, 26 and Sept. 27 – has also been reserved for the preliminary hearing.
While James and Elias were both originally charged with murder, that offence has now been particularized by the Crown. The pair each face one count of second-degree murder in connection with Ali’s death. In contrast, first-degree murder charges denote a level of alleged premeditation.
Ali’s death late last year sparked demands for safer streets from Yellowknife cab drivers and led to the implementation of new safety measures in City Cab taxis.
While taxi drivers have routinely packed into the Yellowknife courthouse during appearances by both of the accused, on Tuesday the two men were backed by two supporters in the Yellowknife courtroom.