Not enough evidence for more charges in Jesse Clarke's killing: police
Jesse Clarke, 14, was killed Monday after being stabbed in east Hamilton
There isn’t enough evidence to charge anyone else in connection with the brawl that led to Jesse Clarke’s stabbing, police say – even though an armed group gathered outside the home of the man accused of killing the 14-year-old just before the fight started.
“The evidence doesn’t support further charges,” Det. Sgt. Matt Kavanagh told CBC Hamilton. “At this time there will be no more charges laid.”
- READ MORE: Jesse Clarke's death caused by armed conflict: accused's foster mom
- READ MORE: Friends mourn Jesse Clarke, 14, killed in East Hamilton stabbing
Brodie Nicholls, 18, faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with the stabbing. According to his foster mother, Charmaine Miller, and neighbours in the east end area where the stabbing happened Monday night, at least a dozen young men showed up at Miller’s home around 9:45 p.m. Monday evening armed with metal pipes and bats. There was no indication that Clarke was one of the males who was armed.
Kavanagh says detectives on the case heard conflicting stories from the people involved and witnesses. “We’ve had different reports from different witnesses about how many people were there and how many were armed,” he said. “There were some weapons involved.”
'Get away from the house, I'm already on the phone with the cops'
Miller says most of the group was armed and screaming they were going to stab her. She says the group wouldn’t leave, and started throwing things at her and her house. A neighbour told CBC Hamilton she saw three men strike Nicholls, the accused, with pipes.
Nicholls had a large abrasion on his neck Tuesday afternoon when he appeared in court.
Another neighbour – who declined to give her name over fear for her own children’s safety – said she saw the armed group outside the home around 9:45 p.m. and heard Miller yelling that she was on the phone with the police. “She was yelling, ‘Get away from our house, I’m already on the phone with the cops,’” the neighbour said. “They started beating on the kid, Brodie.”
Kavanagh says Miller did call police as soon as the group arrived. Both the accused and his foster mother were “known to police” he added, though defense lawyer Beth Bromberg said Nicholls does not have a criminal record.
Miller and her children say two gangs were involved in the fight that lead to Clarke’s death - LOM, which stands for "loyalty over money," and BNA, which stands for "Black Native Association.”
“It’s gang-related. It is a gang,” Miller said.
A tragic event
Kavanagh downplayed a gang connection when asked about it Thursday. For police and the courts, he says, a “more organized structure meant for criminal activity” is necessary to really be considered a gang.
“There’s no form, structure or leadership here and very little criminal activity,” he said, adding that people other than Nicholl’s foster family came to his aid in the fight.
Kavanagh also cautioned any teens who might consider retaliation in the wake of Clarke’s death. Countless messages of grief and anger have been posted online since he died Monday, with some threatening revenge.
“The kids that we interviewed – we’re trying to discourage retaliation,” Kavanagh said. “It’s not going to solve anything.”
“It’s a very tragic event. It’s just terrible that these kids have to go through this – losing a 14-year-old friend.”
Jesse Clarke’s funeral service is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dermody’s Funeral Home at 7 East Avenue South. A visitation is also scheduled for Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.