Bail hearings for seven of the teen girls charged in connection with the alleged “swarming” death of a Toronto man are set to begin next week.
Seven of the eight co-accused made a court appearance Friday and will each get their own day to mount a defence, after Crown attorneys began sharing evidence and calling witnesses in an extended process of hearings to discuss bail.
The suspects include three 13-year-olds, three 14-year-olds, and two 16-year-olds. All are facing second-degree murder charges following the death of Ken Lee, a 59-year-old man who was experiencing homelessness at the time of this death.
One of the eight suspects charged was granted bail last month.
Four of the seven teen suspects now have dates set for the defence to present evidence next week, one each day from January 24 to 27.
Justice Maria Sirivar presided over Friday’s proceedings as the teen girls were led into the courtroom in handcuffs and jumpsuits or large uniformed sweaters.
Sirivar had to quiet the court several times, at one point even saying she was “distracted by all the smirking” from some of the accused.
Overflow rooms were set up around the courthouse to accommodate the several families who wished to attend Friday’s appearance.
Lee was killed on Dec. 18, at approximately 12:17 a.m. in the area of York Street and University Avenue.
While the details surrounding the attack itself are still unclear, witnesses told CTV News Toronto last month the incident may have been sparked by a dispute over liquor.
Police believe the teens met up after connecting on social media.
None of the accused can be named under the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
In a statement released Thursday, Lee’s family took issue with what they called “flaws” in the youth criminal justice system and urged for the suspects to be identified.
“For serious crimes, these perpetrators should not have any privacy rights or bail,” the statement read. “The public should be aware of who these individuals are to protect themselves. The perpetrators must be named in order to bring forth more victims, witness(es) and evidence.”
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Andrew Brennan
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