Two more teenagers, who each face a second-degree murder charge in connection with what police have called a “swarming” attack on Ken Lee in Toronto, were granted bail Friday.
Lee, a 59-year-old Toronto man, was pronounced dead in hospital after he was allegedly beaten and stabbed by a group of girls not far from a downtown shelter in the early morning hours of Dec. 18, 2022. His family has described him as “a kind soul with a heart of gold.”
Eight teenage girls — ranging in age from 13 to 16 — have been charged in connection with the case. Their identities cannot be released under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
In court, a family member of one of the girls audibly gasped, while another wiped away tears as the bail decision was announced.
The girls will be released into the custody of their parents, and Justice Maria Sirivar issued a list of conditions, including that the girls not make contact with the co-accused. They are also banned from using mobile phones or social media, and must remain in Ontario and surrender their passports.
They are allowed to use the internet, but only for school work.
The bail hearing process began in court last week for seven of the accused girls. At that hearing, dates were scheduled for each of the remaining accused to have their own day in court to seek bail this week and next week.
One of the accused was granted bail in December.
A pre-trial publication ban covering any evidence described in court during these hearings is in place, but orders and some comments made by a judge can be reported during the process.
Typically, bail hearings fall under commonplace publication bans that are largely meant to protect the integrity of upcoming trials. At a bail hearing, lawyers can provide evidence in court that could later end up being shown at a trial as part of arguments as to why an accused person should or should not be granted bail.
If that evidence was published or broadcast at the outset, there is a possibility it could taint a prospective jury pool. Spectators in court — including journalists — are able to view that evidence as part of the bail hearing process, but cannot disseminate it until the publication ban drops (which, in the case of a jury trial, is often when jurors start deliberations unless a judge orders other conditions).
Judge orders strip search ban for accused
Earlier in court, Sirivar made an order barring regular strip searches for one of the accused teens.
Sirivar said Thursday she was shocked to learn that one of the girls facing charges in the case was being strip searched every time she returned to a youth detention centre. Sirivar subsequently made an order preventing that practice.
Sirivar said she was prepared to make a second order Friday preventing similar searches when another one of the girls appeared in court as part of bail proceedings. She did not make that order because the accused was granted bail.
Defence lawyer Jordana Goldist, who is representing one of the teens the order pertains to, told reporters outside court Thursday that the practice of regularly strip searching a person of her client’s age is “appalling.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services said the province cannot comment on specific cases — though the spokesperson said that youth justice facilities in the province post notices stating that all people, vehicles and items entering or exiting the premises may be searched in accordance with the Child, Youth and Family Services Act.