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Judge steps aside from hearing Kaslo Home Hardware arson case

Nelson Judge Robert Brown recused himself from the case of Alejandro Calderon
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Downtown Kaslo. A man allegedly tried to set the Home Hardware location, seen here on the right, on fire in December 2022. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

An out-of-town judge will be brought in to hear the case of a man charged with trying to burn down the Home Hardware in Kaslo last December.

Nelson Judge Robert Brown recused himself from the case of Alejandro Calderon at a hearing June 23, after a challenge raised by the accused’s lawyer.

The hearing was supposed to set a date for the preliminary inquiry, the first stage of a prosecution where a judge determines if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. But Calderon’s defence lawyer told Brown he had had a negative encounter with the accused, in an unrelated matter, several years ago.

Brown said he did not remember the incident, but ruled he would step back from hearing the case.

He’s the second judge to do so. Judge Craig Sicotte ruled on June 20 he could not hear this case after finding Calderon guilty the day before of an assault in Kaslo that took place in February 2022.

The case has been sent to the judicial scheduling office to set a date when a judge from another jurisdiction can hear the preliminary inquiry. Crown officials told the Valley Voice that will be in early July, and no later than July 18.

Calderon was charged with mischief, break-and-enter and arson after a man with an axe broke the window in the door of the Home Hardware in Kaslo on Dec. 6, 2022, stuffed a jerry can of gas into the building and lit it on fire. Two employees were in the store at the time. Several passers-by stopped the suspect and doused the flames.