Nfld. & Labrador

Judge bans family, friends from wearing T-shirts for accident victim Alyssa Davis

Some family and friends of the girl killed in an alleged street racing accident were ordered out of a St. John's courtroom Tuesday, for wearing the yellow T-shirts with her picture on them.

Family and friends wearing yellow T-shirts with picture of victim

Friend and family were told they can't be in court wearing T-shirts in support of accident victim Alyssa Davis. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Some family and friends of a girl killed in an alleged street racing accident were forced to leave a St. John's courtroom Tuesday. 

They were wearing T-shirts in the memory of Alyssa Davis, 17, who was killed on the Conception Bay South bypass on Dec. 23, 2015.

The shirts have a picture of Davis on the front along with the phrase 'Sprinkling Sunshine Everywhere.' On the back, the shirts say 'Sunshine Squad,' a group started by Davis's mother, Sherree Davis, that does good deeds in Davis' memory.

Front of t-shirts worn by "Sunshine Squad" in memory of Alyssa Davis. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

But when Judge David Orr entered the courtroom and saw the shirts, he instructed a sheriff's officer to do something about them. 

A mother's concerns

Some members of the group tried turning the shirts inside out, but that didn't satisfy Orr. He either wanted them covered up or removed, meaning that some of group had to leave the courtroom.

The ruling upset Sherree Davis.

"I don't think there was anything inappropriate about the T-shirts that these people have worn. It's about a support group," said Davis.

"We've worn them ever since we've come here. We are here to represent Alyssa. [This is] discriminatory, I think."

Alyssa Davis' mother, Sherree Davis, was upset over Judge Orr's ruling. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Davis also felt a sense of injustice about how the system is working. She believed the accused should have to be in court for all proceedings.

The girl, 17, accused of killing Alyssa Davis by street racing, has been absent for most of the court appearances.

"They should have to be here. The accused should be here, face their peers, face the criminal system. People aren't going to take this seriously if they don't have to be here. We're here and we are going to be here until the end," said Davis. 

In law, a lawyer can get what's know as "designation" which allows the lawyer to appear on the client's behalf.

Similar case, same week

Monday in Harbour Grace, the family and friends of Hannah Thorne, 18, also brought pictures of her to court and prominently displayed them outside. 

Brian King, 30, and Steven Mercer, 29 are charged with street racing causing Thorne's death during an accident on the New Harbour Barrens on July 7.

Family and friends with pictures of accident victim Hannah Thorne outside Harbour Grace courthouse. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

The two men were in court on Monday, and a bail hearing was set for Tuesday.

Thorne's family and friends were told they couldn't bring the pictures into the courtroom. Even so, Thorne's mother, Gail Thorne, held up a smaller picture of her daughter inside the courtroom for King and Mercer to see. 

CBC has been told that King was driving the truck that slammed into the car carrying Thorne.

Defiantly, Gail Thorne holds up picture of deceased daughter in court in Harbour Grace for the accused, King and Mercer, to see. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

The Davis case is due back in court Sept. 13.

About the Author

Glenn Payette

Videojournalist

A veteran journalist with more than 30 years' experience, Glenn Payette is a videojournalist with CBC News in St. John's.

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