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Guy before courts is 'not the guy I know:' former friend says of Col. Williams

A military official observing the double-murder case against Col. Russell Williams said he has no empathy for the man he once called a friend, after he watched the unkempt former commander of CFB Trenton shuffle toward a screen to address the court during an appearance Thursday.

BELLEVILLE, Ont. - A military official observing the double-murder case against Col. Russell Williams said he has no empathy for the man he once called a friend, after he watched the unkempt former commander of CFB Trenton shuffle toward a screen to address the court during an appearance Thursday.

"You're asking me to speak to something that is so strange to all Canadians," Lt. Col. Tony O'Keeffe said outside court in this eastern Ontario city, still visibly shaken after watching the man he has known for nine years address the judge dressed in an orange jumpsuit

"I honestly don't know. I'm really uncomfortable. I don't even know what I'm looking at," O'Keeffe said.

Williams, 47, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau of Brighton, Ont., and Jessica Lloyd of nearby Belleville.

He is also charged with two counts each of forcible confinement, break and enter and sexual assault relating to the attacks on women during home invasions in Tweed, Ont.

Williams' case was put over until April 29. His high-profile, Ottawa lawyer, Michael Edelson, was absent Thursday, sending instead an agent to court for the hearing.

O'Keeffe, who has been tasked with attending the hearings and meeting with Williams to provide updates, is mystified by the fall of one of Canada's rising military stars.

"Well, the guy in front of the courts is not the guy I know. This is beyond anything I can imagine," said O'Keeffe, who has only spoken about military matters with the former commander. Williams has not asked about his former colleagues back at the Trenton base he once led or about his wife, who lives in their home in Ottawa.

Williams is being held in segregation at the Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee, and O'Keeffe said Williams hasn't shown much emotion during the visits, and appears exhausted.

"I'm guessing he's not getting a lot of rest. I don't know. I've never been on that side of the fence," said O'Keeffe.

Comeau, 37, was found dead in her home in Brighton last November. She was a flight attendant at CFB Trenton and served aboard the same military VIP flights Williams piloted for much of the 1990s, ferrying the Governor General, the prime minister and other dignitaries on domestic and overseas trips.

Lloyd's body was found in Tweed two weeks after the 27-year-old failed to show up at her job.

The scandal has cast a dark shadow over the military and the small community of Trenton.