Ken Lee, 59, was allegedly stabbed by the girls in downtown Toronto near the York Street and University Avenue area on Dec. 18, 2022. The stabbing ensued after the girls reportedly tried to take a bottle of alcohol from the victim and his friend. Toronto police previously said the man died after being transferred to hospital.
The girls, whose ages range from 13 to 16 years old, have been charged with second-degree murder. The identities of the young suspects are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).
One of the suspects has been granted bail on strict conditions, including that she is required to stay at home except while attending school or when she is accompanied by one of her two sureties, that she surrender her passport, and that she is not allowed to contact any of her co-accused. She is restricted from using the internet.
In a Jan. 16 statement, Helen Shum, Lee’s sister, said her husband, Eric Shum, has written to several federal, provincial, and municipal officials to call for a change to the YCJA. The email addresses to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Mark Holland, Chief Justice David Lametti, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Toronto Mayor John Tory.
The letter questioned the need to protect the identity of the young offenders in Lee’s case, citing the YCJA, which states the youth criminal justice system is “intended to protect the public” by holding young persons accountable through measures proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.
“In this particular murder case, is the youth justice system really protecting the public? I have a lot of questions as to why we are protecting those criminals that committed murder,” Shum said in the statement.
“Why do we need to protect their privacy? Society needs to know who these perpetrators are; especially if they are attending school,” she said.
“As a parent, I would want to know if a perpetrator was in my child’s school or my child’s class. We don’t see our children for a good portion of the day, and we don’t know who or how they will interact. Any negative influence by these perpetrators on our vulnerable children could be very detrimental to their mental health.”
Shum questioned the court’s decision to grant bail to one of the suspects while commending Premier Ford’s recent call for bail reform after the recent murder of OPP Const. Grzegorz “Greg” Pierzchal by a suspect who was also granted bail.
“For this crime of murder, the optics of allowing bail continue to demonstrate a weak YCJA system sending a message to young offenders that they can do anything and not be held accountable,” Shum wrote.
Shum’s statement was posted on a GoFundMe page, which is raising funds for Lee’s funeral and “any possible legal fees” that may arise from the case.
Aside from the girl who was granted bail, the other seven suspects have remained in custody after a bail hearing last week. The teens are expected to appear for individual bail hearings beginning Jan. 24, reported CBC News.