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Denton murder sentencing Friday for Comox Valley teen

A Comox Valley teen will find out this week how long he will remain in custody and the severity of his sentence for the second-degree murder of James Denton.

About 18 months after what began as a verbal altercation between two groups of friends escalated to the death of 19-year-old Denton, the sentencing will conclude Jan. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Courtenay courthouse.

Justice R.B.T Goepel ruled in August the accused, 16 at the time of the murder, is guilty. Crown prosecutor Gordon Baines noted immediately following the conclusion of the trial he was seeking an adult sentence.

The accused cannot be named because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

Court heard throughout the trial, which concluded in June, that Denton was stabbed twice — once in the left armpit and once in the left lower back — near the entrance to G.P. Vanier Secondary School following a July 2011 day-long music festival at the nearby Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

Denton was raised in Port Hardy, but moved to the Comox Valley several years ago and attended Highland Secondary School in Comox.

Goepel noted in his reasons for judgment he considered the cumulative effect of the evidence, and "the accused' intent to cause bodily hard and death does not raise a reasonable doubt."

Baines said in November the onus is on him to prove why the accused should be sentenced as an adult, and presented six aggravating facts to Goepel including that the accused brought a weapon to a public event, that he provoked the fight, and the attack with the knife was done without warning.

Defence lawyer Michael Mulligan reminded court in his arguments that although second-degree murder is an "extremely serious" offence, it does not indicate that an adult sentence must be imposed.

Under the YCJA, the maximum sentence for second-degree murder is seven years, with a maximum of four years in custody, and the remainder to be served in the community with conditions and under supervision.

As an adult, second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, however, the judge can set parole eligibility at anywhere between 10 and 25 years.

If sentenced as an adult, the accused could be eligible for day parole in February 2017, and full parole by July 2018, taking into consideration time served.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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