Distraught family of dead 19-year-old emotional at courthouse

Emotions ran high Monday morning inside and outside the courtroom in Courtenay where a 16-year-old charged with first-degree murder made his first appearance.
The teen, who cannot be identified because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was arrested Saturday night following a stabbing at about 11:30 p.m. near the entrance to G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay as a crowd dispersed from the Rhythm on the Rock festival at the nearby Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

Emotional members of James Denton’s family engaged in a verbal altercation Monday outside the Courtenay courthouse with friends of the teen accused of murdering Denton

Emotional members of James Denton’s family engaged in a verbal altercation Monday outside the Courtenay courthouse with friends of the teen accused of murdering Denton

Emotions ran high Monday morning inside and outside the courtroom in Courtenay where a 16-year-old charged with first-degree murder made his first appearance.The teen, who cannot be identified because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was arrested Saturday night following a stabbing at about 11:30 p.m. near the entrance to G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay as a crowd dispersed from the Rhythm on the Rock festival at the nearby Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.A Full Throttle Fight Night 3 mixed martial arts event was also wrapping up at the nearby Comox Valley Sports Centre.James Denton, the 19-year-old victim, later died at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.Denton was raised in Port Hardy and attended Highland Secondary School in Comox.Grieving members of his family could not restrain their emotions inside the courtroom as the 16-year-old, looking stoic and unemotional, was formally read his charge by provincial court Judge Peter Doherty and was led back to custody by sheriffs. Doherty noted it is the court’s position to seek an adult sentence for the suspect if found guilty.Family members sitting in the front rows of the gallery, visibly shaken, burst into tears as the charge was read.Outside the courthouse, a verbal altercation ensued between family members of Denton and friends of the alleged assailant.”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, added he wants justice for his son.”He died for nothing,” he said, adding he wants to the trial dealt with in an appropriate manner as quickly as possible so the family can have some closure.”We’ve had it with little dweebs running around this town with knives because they don’t have enough balls to stand up and fight,” Denton shouted.James’ uncle Leon Cake described Denton as a straight-A student who was working for BC Hydro and was out Saturday night to have some fun.”He got what he did not deserve. It was a nothing thing. He was just wanting to go his way,” he noted, holding back tears. “No reasons … he was an innocent 19-year-old kid. It was just a young man who made a stupid mistake, for what reasons?”The promoter of the Rhythm on the Rock music festival said she learned about the stabbing Sunday during teardown at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.“We actually had a prayer circle backstage,” Jessie Lightburn said Monday. “We all held hands, talked about it, prayed for him.“We felt pretty upset that something like that had happened after such a positive event,” said Lightburn, who still sounded shaken.“We’re trying to do the exact opposite, so it really devastated me when I found out.“It’s so tragic and sad that we lost one of our youth. My condolences definitely go to the family.”The defendant is in youth custody and is due to make his next court appearance Thursday by video.Comox Valley RCMP said he is not well known to police and has no previous history of violence or a criminal record. The Comox Valley RCMP General Investigation Section is investigating as well as the B.C. Coroner Service.Police are interested in speaking to anyone who may have witnessed the stabbing. Witnesses can contact the RCMP at 250-334-1321.There will be a celebration of Denton’s life this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Centre at 411 Anderton Ave. in Courtenay.Flowers are gratefully declined. A bursary in his name will be established at a later date.photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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