On Friday (April 17), Pamela Vanmeer of Kawartha 411 broke the news that second-degree murder charges have been withdrawn against two brothers from Bethany in shooting death of 18-year-old Alex Tobin in Omemee on February 18, 2020.
Tobin was shot in an apartment at 36 King Street East in Omemee, a small apartment building located across from Omemee Foodland, and died in hospital.
The following day, Kawartha Lakes OPP arrested 23-year-old Aaron Simmonds and 18-year-old Zachary Simmonds, both of Bethany, after witnesses provided descriptions of the suspects in the shooting. The two men were charged with second-degree murder.
Kawartha 411 reports that the charges have now been withdrawn and that police say the investigation is active and ongoing.
According to Kawartha 411, Marie Henein of Henein Hutchison LLP in Toronto, the lawyer for the Simmonds brothers, says the Crown withdrew the charges because her clients are innocent.
“The Crown withdrew the charges because there was no reasonable prospect of conviction,” Henein explained to Kawartha 411. “A review of the evidence in the possession of the police determined that Zachary Simmonds and his brother, Aaron, were not at the scene at the time of the offence and did not commit the crime. Zachary and Aaron Simmonds are innocent as the evidence established.”
Henein’s previous clients include former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant, who was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death after dragging a man with his car causing his death, and former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who was charged in four cases of sexual assault and one case of choking a woman. Both Bryant and Ghomeshi were cleared of the charges.
Toronto Life has called Henein “one of the most respected and feared criminal lawyers in the country” and The National Post called her the “most high profile criminal defence lawyer in the country.”
In related news, Kawartha 411 reports that the OPP says it is no longer looking for a grey Ford Focus in connection to the case.
A previous version of this story was based on material written by Todd Vandonk of Peterborough This Week. The story has now been modified to indicate that local independent media outlet Kawartha 411 broke the story and to include information from Kawartha 411’s original reporting.