Toronto

Manners' killing 'planned and deliberate:' Crown

Fifteen-year-old Jordan Manners was dragged down the stairs at his Toronto high school by two young men accused of robbing and killing him, a Crown lawyer alleged Wednesday.

Fifteen-year-old Jordan Manners was dragged down the stairs at his Toronto high school by two young men accused of robbing and killing him, a Crown lawyer alleged Wednesday.

Aaron Del Rizzo told Ontario Superior Court that a witness in the murder trial for the pair will testify that Manners was walking down a staircase drinking from a can of pop as one of the suspects walked in front of him, and the other behind him.

Witnesses saw something pressed against Manners' chest before he began to fall, Del Rizzo said in his opening argument at the Toronto courtroom.

Del Rizzo said the two accused rifled through Manners' pockets before running away, and that no words were spoken.

"[They] had the exclusive opportunity to carry out the planned and deliberate murder of Jordan Manners," he said in his opening address.

Manners died May 23, 2007, in the hallway of C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate.

Students and staff who surrounded Manners saw no bullet wound, nor blood.

It was only when teachers and staff noticed a discolouration around a hole in his white jacket — near the zipper, which was partially melted — that they realized he had been shot.

The bullet, which was fired from a .25-calibre gun, had gone through his heart.

Trial to last 2 months

Four days after the shooting, two of Manners' friends were arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

The two are both now 20, but can't be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because they were under 18 at the time. They are pleading not guilty.

Their jury trial is expected to last at least two months, with testimony from as many as 40 witnesses. Del Rizzo said that at some point the jurors would visit C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate to see exactly where Manners was shot.

His death led to an exhaustive investigation commissioned by the Toronto District School Board to recommend ways to fix problems of violence in schools, including a student safety hotline and more resources for troubled kids.

The panel concluded that many of the more than 250,000 students at Toronto public high schools face a "culture of fear."

The panel's 1,000-page report, released in January 2008, uncovered an alarming number of unreported incidents of violence and sexual harassment at specific Toronto schools.

Manners' death also prompted the Toronto Police Service to station armed officers at 50 schools across the city in what is known as the school resource officer program.

Toronto police have touted the program, which began last September, as a way to create closer ties with students and the community.

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