Large crowd hears charge reduced to second-degree murder
Filling it to capacity, James Denton's family and friends packed a Courtenay courtroom Thursday morning to hear the charge for the 16-year-old suspect accused of his death has been changed to second-degree murder.
Crown prosecutor Gordon Baines and defence lawyer Michael Mulligan agreed to stay the charge of first-degree murder against the suspect who cannot be named due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, although Baines added that crown will seek an adult sentence against the suspect if convicted.
Denton was stabbed July 23 around 11:30 p.m. near the entrance to G.P. Vanier Secondary School as a crowd dispersed from the Rhythm on the Rock festival at the nearby Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.
He later died at St. Joseph's General Hospital in Comox.
The defence elected to have a trial by Superior Court judge alone, but told Judge Peter Doherty of provincial court he is requesting a preliminary inquiry with 16 witnesses between he and the Crown.
A temporary date of Feb. 6, 2012 was discussed for the inquiry, which is expected to last five days, but has yet to be confirmed by the judicial case manager.
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James Denton's family wants his name to live on through a bursary being created to honour him and to help others pay for a post-secondary education.
The James Denton Memorial Bursary is being administered through School District 71.
It will be presented annually to a student graduating from Highland Secondary School who is going into college or university and is interested in the trades.
Anyone who wants to contribute to the bursary can mail a cheque to the James Denton Memorial Bursary care of School District 71 — Comox Valley, 607 Cumberland Rd., Courtenay, B.C. V9N 7G5.