Judge will return to Courtenay in January with second-degree murder sentence

A Comox Valley teen will have to wait until the new year to learn the severity of his sentence for the second-degree murder of James Denton.

A Comox Valley teen will have to wait until the new year to see how long he will remain in custody and the severity of his sentence for the second-degree murder of James Denton.

The three-day sentencing hearing ended Wednesday morning, with Justice R.B.T Goepel noting he will need until more time to make his decision as to whether the teen will be sentenced as a youth or as an adult.

“Clearly, this is a difficult task,” he explained to a packed gallery. “I do need some time to reflect and read further details.”

In August, Goepel found the teen, who was 16 at the time of the murder, guilty, and Crown prosecutor Gordon Baines noted he is seeking an adult sentence.

Court heard throughout the trial, which concluded in June, 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 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.

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

The hearing began Monday with family members reading emotional victim impact statements, and explained the impact of James’ death on their day-to-day life.

Baines noted the onus is on the Crown 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.

He added that court should place the most weight on the seriousness and circumstances of the event, as well as consider the accused’s age, maturity, character and previous background.

Baines also took issue with a psychological report prepared for the hearing.

“The report is flawed,” he stated. “Even though (the author) had a copy of the reasons for judgment, it’s based on (the accused) self-report of the incident.”

“The report should have little or no weight,” he added.

Baines argued the prospects for rehabilitation for the accused is not good until “he truly accepts the responsibility of Mr. Denton’s murder,” despite writing an explanation and apology letter directed to the Dentons.

“(The accused) needs to learn true empathy, not just the words that are advantageous in these proceedings,” he said. “He still assumes self-defence; he still believes he was justified. That’s still not admitting responsibility.”

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.

“It’s significant that there would be little practical difference in time that (the accused) would spend in jail under either sentencing,” he explained.

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.

“With respect to age — 16 — sentencing can amount to eight years. That in my submission is a serious and meaningful sentence. You are spending half the amount you are alive in custody,” Mulligan said.

He added an adult sentence will make it difficult for rehabilitation, and that his client accepts the fact he must be punished, and added he expressed genuine remorse.

Mulligan read aloud a letter Tuesday written by the teen expressing his regret and his apology, although the Denton family left the courtroom while it was being read.

Mulligan explained in his arguments his client is “highly motivated, and he knows he can’t undo what he has done, but acknowledges the harm he’s done.”

Goepel will deliver his decision Jan. 18, 2013 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse in Courtenay

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from Comox ferry staff

After Dasher made a dash, ferry staff found her and got her home safe

A rendering of the Denman Green plans for the Kirk Road site. Image, DHA/Ronan Design
Denman Green finds new site for housing

Facing COVID delays, the project reached expiration date on initial site

A fawn stands in a field. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
MARS hoping to build fawn complex for rehab

Their goal is to raise $20,000 in a relatively short period of time.

Aspen Park in Comox is the latest school reporting a COVID-19 exposure. Screenshot, Google Maps
Fifth Comox Valley school reports COVID-19 exposure

Exposure at Aspen Park in Comox was reported for Feb. 22

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Photo: Lt. Sandy Pridmore, MARS Darlene Banerd, MARS, Warren Warttig and Captain Rob Stevens show the new automatic external defibrillator (AED) that will be located at the MARS facilities located at 1331 William Beach Road, Black Creek. Photo supplied
Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society adds AED to Williams Beach Road location

Submitted Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) has collaborated with the Comox Firefighters… Continue reading

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Most Read