Emotions ran high after a brief bail hearing for a teenage girl accused in the death of a six-week-old infant boy.
More than a dozen of the victim’s family members and friends waited nearly two hours for what would be a five-minute hearing in Saskatoon Tuesday morning.
The girl walked into court with her head down and eyes averted; her left eye noticeably puffy and red, almost swollen shut.
When court heard the teen would be remanded into custody, the grandfather of the infant stood up announcing who he was – and that he had something to say.
“All I ask is for justice,” he was heard saying, as the crowd of supporters began filing out the courtroom.
One man, noticeably angered by the situation, slammed his hand on the courtroom door as he left and uttered a loud profanity.
The 16-year-old girl was charged with second-degree murder, and a breach of two youth court orders, on July 3. Those breaches included failure to keep the peace and failure to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
It was around 7 a.m. on July 3 that Saskatoon police officers were called to a home in the 200 block of Waterloo Crescent where they found the injured infant.
The baby was taken to Royal University Hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
Saskatoon police opened an investigation into the death, the city’s ninth homicide of the year, and took a 16-year-old girl – not related to the family – into custody. Hours later, she was charged for her alleged involvement.
“All I want to say is let there be justice served for my grandson, Nikosis Jace,” Jeffery Longman, the boy’s grandfather, said outside Saskatoon Provincial Court Tuesday.
“He was sadly taken away from us for what? I don’t know.”
Clutching hands with his daughter, the boy’s mother, Longman made an impassioned plea for people to stop making incorrect assumptions about the events leading to the boy’s death.
“People are saying on social media he was left alone with her (the accused); he wasn’t,” Longman said, before calling out those allegedly saying his daughter “shouldn’t be allowed to have children anymore.”
“They’re hurting my feelings, and my daughter’s feelings,” he said through tears.
Longman explained his girls met the accused downtown.
“(The girl) had nowhere to go. Okay, I raised my children to respect, to help out people in need, and this is what…she gave me back thanks like this – taking my grandson away from us,” he said.
Longman reiterated he did not know the accused before walking away with family members in tow.
The family is holding a candlelight vigil for the infant Tuesday evening in front of the family’s home at 246 Waterloo Cres. at 9:30 p.m; anyone who wants to show support for Nikosis is invited.
Teen escaped lawful custody the day before
In Regina Tuesday, Ministry of Corrections spokesperson Drew Wilby provided more information about the accused.
He said the girl escaped open custody from Kilburn Hall around 12:45 a.m. on July 2, the day before baby Nikosis died. The police were called within three minutes of her escape. The Youth Criminal Justice Act in Canada does not allow staff to stop a young person in open custody from leaving.
“The doors are open on the open custody side and the offenders, if they choose to, are able to leave. Now once they’ve left, they’re guilty of committing another offence,” Wilby explained. “If it was a closed custody youth we can prevent them from leaving, we can stop them, an open custody youth, we cannot do that.”
North Battleford court officials confirmed the girl was charged with robbery in the city in June 2015.
In August the same year, the teen was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm and one count of assault with a weapon in Meadow Lake.
She was sentenced for both in December and received a 10-month open sentence, two-year firearm ban and one-year probation.
The accused is set to appear via video link in Saskatoon court on Monday, July 11 at 9:30 a.m.
— With files from Sarah Mills.