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Jury delivers guilty verdict in stabbing of teen girl

An Elliot Lake man — charged with attempted murder for attacking a 17-year-old girl when he was 16 — was found guilty Tuesday night by a Sault Ste. Marie jury
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo. Mike Purvis/SooToday

A jury has found a young Elliot Lake man guilty of three offences — including attempted murder — for a March 2021 knife attack on a 17-year-old girl he was walking home.

The verdict was delivered last night — three years and one day after the teen suffered life-threatening injuries at the hands of her assailant.

The man on trial was also was found guilty of aggravated assault in connection with the March 11, 2021 stabbing, as well as sexual assault for offences that occurred in the weeks before the attack.

Jurors began their deliberations early Tuesday evening and reached their decision shortly after 9 p.m.

The accused will be back in court today, where Superior Court Justice Michael Varpio and the lawyers will determine what happens next.

During closing submissions Friday, prosecutor Robert Skeggs argued that the accused intended to kill the victim that night.

"He wanted to kill her, thought he could execute her and that's why he did it,"' the Crown told the jurors.

"He brought a knife with him for the purpose of attacking her and leaving her dead."

The man — who is now 18, but was 16 at the time of the attack — pleaded not guilty to the charges and took the witness stand in his own defence.

He cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and a court-ordered publication ban prohibits reporting information that identifies the victim. 

The girl, who was 17 at the time of the attack, received life-threatening injuries.

She identified the accused as the person who stabbed her in the neck and right side of her torso.

The assistant Crown attorney urged the jury to reject the accused's "not credible" evidence and find him guilty of attempted murder and sexual assault.

"He's not being truthful" about what occurred that night at a bus stop near the intersection of Axmith Avenue and Frame Crescent, Skeggs said.

During the month of March, the accused was texting with "Vendetta," a Texas woman he met while playing online games, including Dungeons & Dragons and Among Us, with some friends.

He spoke to her every day between March 3 and 11.

In one text, he told Vendetta: "I'm not going to get caught. She's corrupt and needs to be put down."

The accused later messaged her: "think I'm going to get rid of her tonight."

He subsequently indicated: "I'm home now. She's gone and she's not coming back."

Cooper Morano, a friend of the accused, testified that he talked to the accused when he returned home from his walk with the girl.

"He showed me a knife and told me he had stabbed her," the Crown witness said.

Morano described the knife, which he said had blood on it, as black-handled with silver dots.

Skeggs urged the jury to accept Morano's evidence.

Defence lawyer Eric McCooeye suggested the jurors "not believe a single word" Morano said.

He says the accused had the knife up his sleeve and showed it to him, but he didn't tell the police anything about a knife until after his own arrest for conspiracy.

The witness initially said he saw no blood and later changed his evidence.

"You can't put any faith in what he says," McCooeye said.

Morano has been convicted of perjury "for lying under oath" and theft, “a crime of dishonesty."

The defence urged the jury to be careful about jumping to a conclusion about what the complainant said occurred that night.

He pointed to inconsistencies in her evidence.

She talked about blood flowing on her hands during the attack, but only "a small, small speck of a blood-like substance" was located at the scene and it wasn't tested, McCooeye said.

"Wouldn't you expect more blood there," he suggested, adding "we can't even be satisfied the stabbing occurred at the bus stop."

The weapon was never located. It's not critical to the case, "but is the absence of evidence you would expect."

He told jurors there also isn't any evidence that his client had the weapon that injured the complainant in his possession.

The Crown suggested the accused had erased some text messages from that night because they were incriminating. 

"How does this make sense," McCooeye asked. Why did he leave texts, such as "I 

f...ed up" and "she's at the hospital" that were more incriminating. 

"Does that make any sense?"

A charge of attempted murder means a person who did the act intended to kill the person, he said.

The injuries the complainant received are more consistent with intent to injure not kill.

About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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