COURTENAY—After a three-day sentencing hearing in Courtenay Court, the judge says he needs time to reflect on all the submissions, and will decide next month whether an adult sentence in the James Denton murder case should be imposed.
Crown Prosecutor Gordon Baines says the youth convicted of Second Degree Murder in the stabbing death of former Port Hardy resident James Denton, in July of 2011 outside the Courtenay Fairgrounds, should receive an adult sentence.
“He doesn’t get what he did…and has not shown remorse for an extremely violent crime, with serious consequences for the victim’s family and the community.”
Baines says the court ordered psychiatric report on the youth failed to consider he was the aggressor, and that he already had his knife out before the stabbing.
Baines took issue with the report saying it was a panicked reaction, triggered by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being beat up in an earlier fight, and fueled by intoxication.
“There were clearly elements of premeditation,” Baines told court during Tuesday’s proceedings.
Baines says the youth has long standing issues with aggression, and needs to learn true empathy.
An adult sentence, said the Crown Prosecutor, would help assure rehabilitation, and re-integration in the long term.
“Gordon did very well, and Gordon is a professional,” said Dave Denton, father of James Denton, who was 19 when he stabbed twice in 2011 and later died from his wounds. “Gordon does it right, and he just wants what is right, and this guy has gotta be looked at for a lot of years to come.”
“I only have one comment, and that is both families are very sorry for what has happened, and that is it,” said Wayne Kennedy, supporter for the family of the convicted teen.
Meanwhile, defence lawyer Michael Mulligan says the youth should not be on parole at the age of 66, for a crime committed when he was 16. And Mulligan cited other cases to argue there is not sufficient evidence for an adult sentence.
“Some of the important factors which judges in other cases have used to conclude that a youth sentence would not be not long enough included things like offences that involved significant planning … or circumstances where the expert reports said the person was not amenable to rehabilitation.”
Mulligan says that is not the case for the convicted youth, who shows genuine remorse for the crime and who has taken full advantage of all courses and programs available to him while in custody.
Mulligan added an adult sentence will make it difficult for rehabilitation, and told court the teen has no previous criminal record, and shows, “real potential and excellent promise.”
Mulligan says an adult sentence would stigmatize the youth for life, adding there is not sufficient evidence to support adult jail time.
Midway through the three-day hearing, the Denton family walked out of court upon hearing the defence would read out a letter penned by the youth.
The youth wrote he deeply regrets what happened, saying he was sorry. The teen wrote the incident taught him many things about life, including the dangers of violence, which he wants to pass on to troubled youth in the community.
A ruling by the judge will come down January 18, 2013.