Closing arguments in Courtenay murder trial focus on accused’s state of mind

A verdict for the teen accused of murdering James Denton may know his fate by Aug. 1.

The teen accused of murdering James Denton may know his fate by Aug. 1.

Supreme Court Justice R.B.T. Goepel told court Thursday afternoon following closing statements by both defence lawyer Michael Mulligan and Crown prosecutor Gordon Baines, the date is tentatively set for a decision, and if required, both lawyers should be prepared to argue sentencing following the verdict.

During the final day of the trial — which was originally scheduled until June 22 — Mulligan argued the judgment of young people, particularly that of the 17-year-old accused, is often not at an adult level.

The court heard throughout the trial that Denton, 19, 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 the conclusion of a day-long music festival at the nearby Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

Mulligan argued people the age of the accused, who was 16 at the time of the incident and cannot be named because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, believe they are invincible.

“We do our best to protect young men from themselves … we ought not to judge people of that age too harshly. Some of the choices on that night were poor ones,” he noted.

He referred to case law to note that young persons do not have an adult’s ability to see consequences.

Mulligan argued his client’s reaction to hearing of Denton’s death while in police cells is not reflective of someone who wanted to commit murder.

“His answer of, ‘Oh, my god, did that actually happen?’ and ‘I really don’t believe that. You guys aren’t kidding.’ His responses are not of a person who thought about it (the murder) and proceeded anyway,” he said. “It was a natural, immediate response. Is that the response of someone who reflected upon murder and then elected to proceed? It’s not.”

During the Crown’s closing arguments, Baines told the judge the accused intended to cause bodily harm and that he had the subjective foresight of death.

He asked Justice Goepel to discount the accused’s evidence almost entirely as fabrication, as Baines stated he tailored his answers to the issues.

“On those points, it’s not consistent with any other evidence. It defies logic and common sense,” he said.

“(The accused) believed the human body can’t die by being stabbed. If that’s the case, perhaps the school board should be seeking its Dogwood back,” he added.

Crown argued that the accused knew his actions were likely to result in death.

“This isn’t an academic exercise. Common sense isn’t left at the courtroom door, my lord,” he added.

“Based on (the accused) acting aggressively, there was no evidence that he was scared; he interjected himself into the argument, he knew he had a knife, he took it out and stabbed a boy when at the very worst he could have gotten into a fistfight. I respectfully submit he should be guilty of second-degree murder.”

For more, see Wednesday’s Comox Valley Record.

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