Darius Brown's killer like a scared child, defence says, arguing man should be sentenced as youth

Youth court Judge Lucie Godin will rule on June 13 whether the 19-year-old who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2016 Côte Saint-Luc stabbing death should be sentenced as an adult or as a youth.

19-year-old, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2016 stabbing, was 17 at time of Brown's death

Darius Brown, pictured with his two sisters, was 17 at the time of his death, as was the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in his death. (CBC)

Youth court Judge Lucie Godin will rule on June 13 whether the 19-year-old man who stabbed and killed Darius Brown in November 2016 will be sentenced as a youth or as an adult.

Brown's killer, who can't be named because he was 17 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Montreal youth courthouse last fall.

The man's lawyer, Andrew Barbacki, depicted him at his sentencing hearing Tuesday as a scared child "reliant on grandma to wash his socks" and still "getting an allowance from daddy" at the time of Brown's death.

Barbacki is arguing the man should be sentenced as a youth, even though he's now 19.

The maximum length of a youth sentence for manslaughter is three years in closed custody, while a manslaughter conviction as an adult carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the onus is on the Crown to prove a minor should be given an adult sentence.

Prosecutor Mélanie Rose argued a youth sentence would not be appropriate for such a serious crime. 

Rose described the man as a budding drug dealer whose decision to plunge a seven-centimetre-long knife into Brown's skull was evidence of intent to kill or at least seriously harm.

Signs of remorse

Barbacki pointed to what he says are extenuating circumstances leading up to the stabbing, calling his client's actions "a reaction to violence" from Brown.

Brown and a friend had joined the man and his girlfriend on the 162 bus. The four got off about 10 minutes later and went to an apartment building on Westover Road in Côte Saint-Luc, where the man was to sell marijuana to Brown.

Barbacki said Brown had robbed his client, taking his ring and asking for his watch, then grabbing him by the throat.

The defence lawyer said his client then stabbed Brown out of fear and "a degree of anger." But Barbacki says the killer quickly showed signs of remorse, calling 9-1-1 on his own phone.

Barbacki said at the time, his client was slipping into a delinquent lifestyle but had no gang affiliation.

Prison would be 'university of crime'

Barbacki also argued Brown's killer had made steps towards rehabilitation in youth custody, as indicated by a positive pre-sentence report from the man's caseworker.

Barbacki said sentencing him to a federal penitentiary term would be like sending him to a "university of crime."

In her arguments Tuesday afternoon, the prosecutor characterized Brown's provocation as a "single slap," to which the defendant grossly overreacted, calling his actions "unreasonable and unjustified."

Rose also disputed the notion that the defendant was remorseful after killing Brown, referring to 9-1-1 recordings in which he taunted Brown's friend after the stabbing.

"I've got your f--king boy," he is overheard saying. "You think I'm playing, dawg?"

Rose also said video surveillance footage showed Brown's killer searched his victim's pocket and retrieved his ring as Brown lay dying.

He then left the scene before police arrived and disposed of the knife.

Previous robbery conviction

The man was on probation at the time of the incident for a previous conviction for robbery.

The Crown said he had breached a court-ordered condition not to carry a weapon by buying and having on him the small knife.

Rose said the then-17-year-old had been running a drug trafficking business for about 18 months at the time of Brown's stabbing, and he was earning about $2,000 a month from illicit drug sales.

She is seeking a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence for the man, which would work out to 63 months after time already served.