B.C. man asks to withdraw surprise guilty plea to second-degree murder

KELOWNA, B.C. — A man accused of killing a woman in a hotel room in British Columbia's Interior now wants to withdraw a guilty plea he unexpectedly offered on Tuesday.

Tejwant Danjou startled his own lawyer when he entered the plea but there were more surprises on Wednesday in the courtroom in Kelowna, B.C.

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Donna Turko, Danjou's lawyer, told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that she had received a change of instructions from her client.

Justice Alison Beames will hold a hearing Friday to decide whether to accept Danjou's application to withdraw his guilty plea to a charge of second-degree murder.

Danjou is accused of killing Rama Gauravarapu, with whom he was in a relationship, in a room at the Best Western Plus hotel in West Kelowna in July 2018.

After the plea was entered into the record Tuesday, the 70-year-old Vancouver real estate agent refused to sign papers confirming his plea.

Danjou objected to a phrase in which he was to acknowledge that he had the "intent to kill," Turko told Beames.

Crown counsel Michael Lefebure said he was surprised Danjou wants to withdraw his guilty plea, especially after Beames had quizzed Danjou closely about whether he fully understood the ramifications of pleading guilty to the charge of second-degree murder.

"The Crown felt that yesterday's proceedings were careful and thoughtful," Lefebure said, indicating the Crown would oppose Danjou's application to withdraw the plea.

After Danjou pleaded guilty on Tuesday, the Crown began the process of notifying witnesses that there would be no trial and they would not have to testify.

Should Beames decide on Friday to allow Danjou to withdraw his guilty plea, it's not clear when the trial would begin.

But Beames noted three weeks of court time had originally been cleared for the trial, and she said her schedule was open.

"I continue to be available," Beames said.

(The Daily Courier)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2020

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