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Nova Scotia judge to preside over fatality inquiry involving Afghan veteran


HALIFAX – A provincial court judge in Nova Scotia has been appointed to preside over the fatality inquiry into the deaths of Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond and his family.

The Nova Scotia judiciary issued a statement Thursday saying Warren K. Zimmer was appointed to the post by Judge Pamela Williams, chief judge of the provincial court.

The provincial government promised an inquiry last December, almost a year after Desmond fatally shot himself and his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter in rural Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.

Desmond was diagnosed with PTSD after two harrowing tours in Afghanistan in 2007.

Among other things, the inquiry will examine whether Desmond had access to appropriate mental health services, and whether his family had access to domestic violence intervention services.

Zimmer was called to theĀ  Nova Scotia bar in 1978. He worked as a Crown prosecutor until 1983 when he entered private practice, specializing in criminal law. He was appointed to the bench in 2011.

As well, the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service has appointed Allen Murray as the inquiry’s prosecutor.

Murray, the chief Crown attorney in Antigonish, spent four years as a staff lawyer with Nova Scotia Legal Aid in Antigonish before joining the prosecution service in 2001.

The start date for the inquiry has not been announced, but a spokeswoman for the judiciary confirmed the hearings will start later this year.

As expected, the inquiry will be held in Guysborough, N.S., near the community where the deaths occurred.

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