John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Trial date set for murder accused

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A trial date of June 27 has been set for Kawerau murder accused Wyjuana Smith who appeared before Justice Brewer in the High Court, Tauranga, today.

Smith's lawyer Gene Tomlinson was not in a position to advise his client on a plea so Justice Brewer entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendant in order, he said, to keep the trial process moving along.

Justice Brewer said the plea did not mean that Smith would lose a sentencing discount if he later entered a plea of guilty. June 27 was the only trial date available for the rest of this year.

Smith, 18 of Kawerau, has been charged with murdering Todd Branch at Kawerau between March 1 and March 2. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The Crown Prosecutor was Anna Pollett.

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