Fri, April 6, 2007
Justice on killer's string
By MICHELE MANDEL
He is a young Pied Piper who had an entire courtroom jump
through his hoops, and all for naught.
But in the justice system, it's the criminals -- even the
young ones -- who call the tunes.
The young offender who killed 15-year-old Terrence Ali after
a Caribana party in 2003 wanted out of jail early. The 21-year-old
had been doing easy time at Sprucedale Youth Facility --
swimming pool, hockey, Kentucky Fried Chicken -- but had
suddenly been told earlier this year the good times were
nearing an end. No doubt thanks to pressure from Ali's outraged
mother, the no-longer "young" offender was going
to be shipped out to a real adult jail.
Instead, he came scurrying to Scarborough court last month
to ask Justice Russell Otter to release him early to strict
house arrest, despite having served just 20 months of his
41/2-year sentence for first-degree murder.
And there was more. If his plea for release was denied,
he wanted the judge to send him to a federal penitentiary,
rather than a provincial jail -- a transfer supported by
the provincial director of Youth Justice Services.
While Otter considered his wish list, the poor killer was
moved out of Sprucedale to join the adults at Metro East
Detention Centre. According to his father, these last four
weeks there have not been easy for him.
"He's been threatened every day," he said.
Don't expect pity from Moonie Ali, not when this man just
17 days shy of his 18th birthday joined two others to strip
and kill her slight son almost four years ago, beating the
intoxicated teen with such wanton brutality that his skull
was severed from his spinal column by the time he was dumped
into Lake Ontario and left to drown.
She was there yesterday, as she is at every court appearance
of her son's killers, to hear the youth court judge's decision.
But in a bizarre turn of events, Justice Otter was interrupted
halfway through and told that the young murderer's wish
list had now changed.
He was suddenly withdrawing both his application to be
released early and to be transferred to a federal pen. Instead,
he wanted to go along with the provincial director's new
recommendation that he be moved out of Metro East and into
Brampton's Ontario Correctional Institute.
Had he realized there was little chance he was going to
be released early? Had he heard that the inmates in a federal
penitentiary might be even scarier than those doing time
in provincial jails?
His lawyer, Robert Warren, wasn't offering any explanations.
"It's the wishes of my client that it be withdrawn
at this time," is all he would say.
As a result, the days of witness testimony, legal argument
and judge's deliberations were all for nothing -- leaving
most everyone in the courtroom shaking their head.
"This is really sad," Ali's mother said. "They
do the crime and they have wishes? The youth calls all the
shots and gets them. Victims have no voice -- none whatsoever.
"Why does he have a preference of where he gets to
serve his time -- what kind of message does that send to
the community? What is going on? Are the criminals running
the legal system in Canada?"
Yesterday, it seems they were.