In a packed courthouse Monday, the families of James Denton and his accused listened carefully to three witnesses during the first day of
trial stemming from Denton’s death last year.
As Crown prosecutor Gordon Baines noted in his opening statement, Denton, 19, was stabbed twice last July — 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
Baines added Denton collapsed almost immediately and was unresponsive. He later died of the two stab wounds at St.
Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.
The 16-year-old suspect accused of his death — who cannot be identified because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act — has been charged with second-degree murder, although Crown indicated in the past he will seek an adult sentence against the
suspect if convicted.
The suspect, dressed in a white dress shirt and black pants, walked in shackles to the prisoner’s dock, and avoided eye contact with the gallery as he sat to the right of his lawyer,
Victoria-based Michael Mulligan.
He remained silent throughout the afternoon, but quietly responded “not guilty” when Supreme Court Justice
R.B.T. Goepel asked for his plea.
Baines said he will present 23 witnesses in total — four police officers and 19 civilian witnesses —
during the judge-only trial, which is scheduled to last until June 22.
Outside the courthouse, sheriffs presided over the large crowd of friends and
family of both the Denton family and that of the accused.
“(I want to) make this guy pay — the harshest penalties available by law as an adult,” said James’ father, Dave Denton, who was surrounded by
supporters wearing Justice for James T-shirts.
“You want to be a big man? Pay for your crime like a big man,” he noted, and added he is grateful for the support.
“What would we be if we were standing here by ourselves? There’s power in numbers. If I was standing here by myself, I’d probably just dig a whole
and climb in.”