Family of Karanveer Sahota satisfied by second-degree murder charges against 7 teens

Relatives of a teenaged boy who died after being assaulted two weeks ago are satisfied with the charges Edmonton police have laid against the suspects.

Edmonton police announced Friday that 6 boys, 1 girl were charged in teen's stabbing death

Monica Binns, left, and Shivleen Sidhu, right, are cousins of Karanveer Sahota, the 16-year-old boy who died after being assaulted at a bus stop near McNally High School on April 8. They spoke with reporters Saturday morning. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Relatives of a teenaged boy who died after being assaulted two weeks ago are satisfied with the charges Edmonton police have laid against the suspects.

The Edmonton Police Service announced Friday seven teenagers — six boys and a girl — were charged with second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Karanveer Sahota, 16.

"We were satisfied, because it could have been less," Sahota's cousin Monica Binns said on Saturday morning during a news conference.

"This is the best we could ask for at this moment."

Sahota, a Grade 10 student at McNally High School in Edmonton's Forest Heights neighbourhood, was assaulted at a bus stop near the school on the afternoon of April 8.

He suffered multiple stab wounds and was rushed to hospital, where he died April 15. An autopsy later confirmed that the cause of death was a stab wound to the chest.

Sahota and the seven teenagers charged were known to each other, police said. The two groups had historically not gotten along and police said the assault could signify an escalation. There is no evidence to suggest Sahota's death was gang related. 

As a result of the EPS investigation, the six boys — two 14-year-olds, two 15-year-olds and two 16-year-olds — and 17-year-old girl were charged with second-degree murder.

The girl is also charged with attempted obstruction.

The seven accused cannot be named to protect their identities as minors.

Police said they do not expect further charges to be laid.

"The Edmonton Police Service are doing a great job," Binns said.

Five of the accused were granted bail at a hearing on Friday. They will next appear in provincial court May 13.

The remaining two youths will appear before a judge for a bail hearing at some point, police said.

Sahota, shown here, is remembered by his cousins as gentle and kind. (Courtesy of the Sahota Family)

Family wants accused tried as adults

As minors, the seven accused fall under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which offers more lenient sentences for guilty persons than the Criminal Code of Canada.

Under the act, if a youth is found guilty of second-degree murder they can be sentenced up to seven years.

The sentence would consist of a "committal to custody" or a "committal to intensive rehabilitative custody" — either of which would be served continuously for up to four years from the date of committal — and a "placement under conditional supervision" to be served in the community.

The court could impose further sanctions as well, the act states.

Sahota's family, however, want the accused to be tried as adults, Binns said.

In Canada, a youth can be sentenced under the Criminal Code as an adult.

The minimum sentence under the Criminal Code for anyone found guilty of second-degree murder is life in prison.

If the person was under the age of 18 when they committed the crime, they would have to serve at least five to seven years (depending on their age) before being eligible for parole.

GoFundMe raises over $230K for family

Binns launched a GoFundMe campaign after Sahota died to help raise money for the boy's family.

As of Saturday afternoon, it has raised $233,418 from about 2,900 donors.

"They are in utter shock to their body and emotional states. They are not doing well," said Shivleen Sidhu, another of Sahota's cousins, who spoke alongside Binns Saturday morning.

A memorial has been set up outside McNally High School in honour of Sahota. (Julia Wong/CBC )

"We are trying to help them as a family to be strong and support them."

The campaign was launched initially to help cover the families expenses while they grieve, Binns said, but the outpouring of support was unexpected.

Sahota's funeral will take place in Edmonton early Sunday afternoon.

A vigil will be held at the McNally High School field on the evening of April 29. 

With files from Emily Fitzpatrick