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'We deserve the truth': 16-year-old's family learning about his final day during manslaughter trial


It's been an emotional week for the family of a 16-year-old boy as they listened to details about an attack that led to his death.

"We are reliving this all over again and we are experiencing these emotions and facts with the public," said MB, a cousin of the victim.

"We watch the videos, we’re seeing the last moments of our cousin so it’s really difficult for us to experience that," added PG, another cousin.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act and an additional publication ban prevent identifying any of the youth involved, including family, as well as the name of the school near the attack location.

It's a ban the family isn't entirely happy with.

"It feels like it’s backtracking and it kind of feels like it’s our story to tell but we’re not allowed to tell it anymore," said PG.

"We might get in more trouble for saying his name than the people that did it to him will get in trouble," she added.

Before the manslaughter trial for two of the seven teens charged was set to start on Tuesday, one of them, BJ, entered a guilty plea. The trial continued for SM.

Throughout the week, the court heard from several witnesses including Edmonton police officers who were called to the scene, and a woman who witnessed the attack and called 911.

It was her testimony the family said was hardest to hear.

"I hoped that when the attack first started that he would lose consciousness right away so he wouldn’t have to feel pain," said PG. "It was really hard to learn that he actually didn’t lose consciousness and had to stand and then he fell and then lost breath and I think that was really traumatic for us to hear," she said.

Two girls who spent time with the seven charged that day also testified. They spoke about skipping school, places they drove to throughout the day and vehicles they were in.

They were shown surveillance videos and photos to confirm identities, and confirmed SM was in their car that day.

There was also a phone call in the car just before the group arrived at the school, but the witnesses told the court they either didn't remember or didn't hear what was said.

They said it was by chance they encountered the victim who walked in front of their car.

The court heard SM and another boy got out of the car and approached the victim.

One of the girls said the victim took a swing at the boys but couldn't tell if it connected.

When the other girl, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car at the time, was asked what happened when the boys got out, she said "They went off to the side, I did not see anything."

When asked by defence lawyer Brian Beresh if the mood was positive amongst the group that day, she replied 'yes.'

Beresh also asked if there was any discussion between the boys in the car she was in about 'causing trouble that day'. The girl said "no".

"Or to cause violence to anyone that day?" Beresh asked. "No," she said. She also said no when Beresh asked if she saw SM and the other boy with any weapons.

"They don’t remember certain details," said PG.

"They remember the tint on the windows but they won’t remember the discussion taking place in the backseat," added MB.

"We deserve the truth. That’s all we ask for is the truth," MB said.

The trial for SM continues next week. BJ will be sentenced later this month.

The victim's family plans to lobby for changes to the YCJA.

"Not to sentence youth based on their age, it should be calibrated to the severity of the crime," said MB.

She knows any potential changes to the act would come too late for their case but hopes it may benefit somebody else in Canada.'

"I don't want him to die in vain," MB said.

"He’ll be forgotten is what my fear is and then he would have died for nothing and I cannot let that happen." Top Stories

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