The youth charged in connection with beating up and robbing an 11-year-old disabled boy who later took his own life may still stand trial, in spite of the deceased victim's inability to testify.
Crown attorney Kerri-Ann Kennedy will argue that an affidavit written and signed by Mitchell Wilson before his death should be submitted as evidence. Mitchell, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder that required him to use a walker, was bullied and attacked by a 12-year-old youth in November 2010.
It was a vicious assault that Mitchell's father, Craig Wilson, believes sent his son into a deep depression and eventually led to suicide. Just hours after learning he had to testify against his alleged attacker, the Pickering, Ont., boy was found dead in his room. A plastic bag was tied around his head.
In an unexpected twist on Wednesday, the Crown decided to push ahead with seeking a trial in the assault case, even though Mitchell will not be able to testify in court.
The youth charged in the assault can only be identified as J.S. due to his age. He did not appear in an Oshawa, Ont., court Wednesday, though Mitchell's family had been ready to face him in order to read a victim impact statement.
Alleged mugging over iPhone
Given the significance of this case, Justice Mary Teresa Devlin agreed to give more time to the Crown to prepare a prosecution.
The trial has been adjourned until Nov. 21.
Wilson told CBC News he had been ready to address his son's alleged attacker in the courtoom.
The anguished father said that Mitchell had dreaded the prospect of facing his tormentor, who is alleged to have smashed the younger boy's face so hard against the pavement that several of Mitchell's teeth were knocked out. J.S. had allegedly wanted Mitchell's iPhone.
"Having to go to court to face these criminals. He wasn't going to do that anymore," Wilson said.
Dreaded 'another year of ridicule'
"Depression set in not only for his disease, but for his inability to protect himself and feeling unsafe in his own home; that [his attacker] might show up, break into the house to hurt him."
Wilson said his son bravely battled his condition, but had already experienced a tough childhood in only a few years. His mother died when he was eight. Although J.S. was removed from Mitchell's school, his friends continued to taunt Mitchell.
"He probably had an anxiety attack about going to school. About another year of ridicule, people staring because he walks different," Wilson said.
Wilson said his statement on Wednesday would also be an appeal to his son's bullies to think about the potential consequences of their actions.
"I don't think they care, but I would like to think that they do," he said. "And I hope that they would not do it to anyone else. And they might actually prevent somebody from doing something like this themselves. I would like them to take a different path and be a better person."