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Man accused in fatal Chinatown stabbing gets new lawyer

Nikolai Sugak, 32, was found gravely injured shortly after midnight on Feb. 6, 2023.
The Vancouver Law Courts.

A Surrey man expecting a B.C. Supreme Court jury trial on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man in Vancouver's Chinatown has lost his lawyer.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) said Nikolai Sugak, 32, was found gravely injured near West Pender and Carrall streets shortly after midnight on Feb. 6, 2023.

Despite receiving emergency medical attention, Sugak died shortly after he was found.

Police believe Sugak was stabbed by a stranger in nearby Shanghai Alley before collapsing into the street. The death led to a five-week investigation. 

One count of second-degree murder was laid against Jaal Routh Kueth.

He had a preliminary inquiry in April to determine if enough evidence existed to proceed to trial.

On May 29, trial dates had been set for April 28-May 16, 2025 with jury selection April 24-25.

However, on June 12, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Ker approved defence lawyer Tony Lagemaat’s application to withdraw as Kueth’s lawyer.

Ker heard there had been an “irreconcilable breakdown” in the lawyer-client relationship leading Lagemaat to withdraw.

Stepping into the role is defence lawyer Glen Orris.

It remains to be seen if the original trial dates will remain in place as Orris comes up to speed in the case.

Kueth first appeared on the charge in Vancouver Provincial Court on March 17, 2023 before Judge Jennifer Oulton.

Kueth was ordered detained "due to the nature of the charge."

VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin said the violent offence caused significant concern about crime and public safety in the neighbourhood.