By Hilary Beaumont
HALIFAX (Reuters) - The hearing for a Canadian man and American woman accused of plotting a shopping mall massacre in the Atlantic Canadian city of Halifax will begin in June, a judge ruled on Friday.
The 20-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, who are believed to have met online, are accused of planning a Columbine-like mass murder, suicide. They were arrested at the Halifax airport in February, after the woman traveled from Illinois, allegedly to carry out the massacre.
Canadian Randall Shepherd appeared via video from a Nova Scotia prison while American Lindsay Souvannarath was in the courtroom on Friday.
Justice Marc Chisholm granted a preliminary inquiry, set for June 22, to determine whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to warrant a trial for the accused.
Shepherd and Souvannarath have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and arson as well as unlawful communication threatening "through social media" to cause harm or death.
The two were arrested at the Halifax airport after police received a tip about their alleged plans to shoot as many people as possible at the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine's Day, then kill themselves. A third man believed linked to the plot was found dead in a house in Halifax.
The two men were childhood friends in Halifax, met the woman online and, according to media reports, all three admired the teenagers who killed 12 students and a teacher during a high school shooting spree in 1999 in Columbine, Colorado.
Blogs and a Facebook profile linked to Souvannarath featured dark images of death and Nazism and an image with the words: "Valentine's Day It's going down."
(Writing by Andrea Hopkins; editing by Gunna Dickson)