The trial of a man accused of human trafficking after a migrant family was found frozen to death near the Manitoba-U.
S. border may not begin as scheduled Monday, according to court documents.
Last May, Steve Anthony Shand of Florida pleaded not guilty to one count of bringing persons into the United States illegally and transporting them within the country in the United States District Court in Minnesota.
His trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but in a joint motion filed Thursday in Minnesota court, both Shand’s attorney, Aaron J. Morrison, and prosecutors requested an extension.
Motion calls for waiver to be granted to Shand’s legal case of the Speedy Trial Lawwhich outlines the time limits for completing the various steps of a federal criminal proceeding.
Shand was arrested on January 19, 2022 in a remote area of northern Minnesota, where border agents found him with two Indian nationals in a rented passenger van.
On the same day, near the southern Manitoba border town of Emerson, RCMP discovered the frozen bodies of Jagdish Patel, 39, and his wife, Vaishali, 37, along with their two children: daughter Vihangi , 11, and his son Dharmik, 3.
“Complex” case: court documents
Authorities believe the Patel family, who were from the village of Dingucha in India, died from exposure while trying to enter the United States undetected.
Prosecutors and Shand’s attorney are asking that the time between Sept. 18 and the still-undetermined start of his trial be excused under the Speedy Trial Act, the motion says.
They say a 90-day extension starting Sept. 18 would be enough.
The motion says that because the case is “complex,” the law justifies a delay in the start of the trial. The court document says more time would also “serve the ends of justice, which outweigh the interests of the public.”
More time would also allow possible additional charges against Shand to be prepared and “may allow all potential charges to be resolved without one or more separate indictments and thus avoid the need for multiple trials,” the court document says.
The Associated Press reported last May that Shand’s trial was initially scheduled to begin July 17, but that date was subject to change. Her arraignment was also postponed 10 times due to delays after pandemic health measures prevented court staff and the public from gathering in courtrooms, The Associated Press reported.
Shand was granted a parole from a North Dakota prison days after his arrest in January 2022.
In addition to the two found with Shand, five other undocumented Indian citizens were Also arrested at around the same time and place as him.according to US Homeland Security documents.
It is believed that those seven people and the Patel family were part of the same group, but that the Patels had become separated from the rest.
In May, The Canadian Press reported that Indian police had arrested three other people in connection with the Patels’ deaths, and that Indian authorities had begun the process of extraditing two Canadians to face charges.