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Crown to retry ‘Johnathan’ case

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada
Feb. 17, 2005 • Thursday February 17, 2005

TORONTO – Prosecutors say they will retry the case of three teenagers in Toronto charged with the murder of a 12-year-old boy.

Paul Culver, Crown attorney for the Toronto region, told the Toronto Star that he could not estimate when the second trial would begin. Defence lawyers believe it will be no sooner than the fall.

A mistrial was declared after a key prosecution witness allegedly lied about her interest in vampirism.

Justice David Watt said the witness, a former girlfriend of one of the defendants, may have misled the court after a newspaper reported she had contradicted her sworn testimony in postings to the internet.

The 12-year-old victim, who can only be identified as “Johnathan,” was stabbed to death in November 2003.

The victim’s older brother, now 18, and two friends, ages 16 and 17, were charged with first-degree murder. All three pleaded not guilty.

The victim’s stepfather was also beaten, but managed to flee.

Defence lawyer Robert Nuttall, who represents Johnathan’s brother, said the prosecution “has a lot to think about” in the wake of the revelations surrounding the Crown’s key witness.

“She was the star [witness], and she was being presented as the star. It would have been highly desirable for the prosecution to have done a little bit more research about [her] background,” Nuttall said.

The witness was a girlfriend of one of the accused. She taped a phone conversation with the three boys discussing plans to kill Johnathan and his family.

The defence claimed that the murder plan in the taped phone call was a joke and an attempt to woo the girl, who shared her then-boyfriend’s fascination with vampirism.

During the trial, Johnathan’s brother acknowledged that he stabbed the victim to death, but argued that he suffered from a psychiatric disorder that made him unable to control violent impulses.

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