COURTENAY—Friends and family are preparing to say their last goodbyes to a former Port Hardy man who was allegedly killed by a teen in a weekend knife attack.
A celebration of James Denton’s life is planned for Saturday, exactly one week after police say he was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old male, who cannot be identified because of provisions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The accused made his first court appearance Monday in Courtenay where emotions ran high inside and outside the courtroom.
Grieving family members couldn’t restrain their emotions as the 16-year-old, looking stoic and unemotional, was formally read his charge by provincial court Judge Peter Doherty, who noted the court’s position is to seek an adult sentence for the suspect if found guilty.
Family members of the accused sitting in the front rows of the gallery, burst into tears as the charge was read.
Family members of Denton and friends of the alleged assailant got into a shouting match outside the courthouse.
“He killed my boy — he murdered by son,” yelled Brenda Denton, mother of James. “I want justice for my son.”
She later added, “He died sticking up for a friend.”
David Denton, hugging his wife while surrounded by friends and family, wondered aloud why his son died.
“He died for nothing,” he said..
The teen was arrested Saturday night following the stabbing about 11:30 p.m. near the entrance to G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay as a crowd dispersed from a music festival at the nearby Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.
Denton, 19, later died at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.
Denton was raised in Port Hardy, but moved down island several years ago where he attended Highland Secondary School in Comox.
James’ uncle, Leon Cake, described Denton as a straight-A student who just started a full time job with for BC Hydro.
“He got what he did not deserve … he was just wanting to go his way,” he said while struggling to hold back tears.
“No reasons … he was an innocent 19-year-old kid.”
Comox Valley RCMP said the accused has no previous history of violence.
“James was the person he was because of the love and support his family gave him,” said long time pal, Quinn Mellow.
“After he moved away he frequently came back to Port Hardy to visit, go fishing and just hang out.”
Added another friend, Carly Heavenor: “You would never catch James without a smile on his face, and he had a positive attitude towards everything in life.”
Heavenor and Denton’s close pal, Ryan Fedorak, penned a letter to the Gazette about their friend.
“James blew everyone away with his fearless attitude towards biking,” they wrote.
“James was, for a short time, a member of Nitro, the local biking club … and would do jumps and drops some of the senior riders would not even attempt.”
One thing all Denton’s friends said was he loved Port Hardy. “It was his favourite place that had everything he loved most in life,” said the letter writers.
“It was his own backyard, and was the place that fitted his lifestyle perfectly.”
In fact, Denton was recently in town for the Filomi Days celebration.
“He came up to visit all of his Port Hardy friends and to go fishing — it was a great time with James, as always.” The celebration of James’ life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Courtenay’s Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton Ave.
—with files from Mike D’Amour