Abdul Jemei, the YCJA and fear

(Twitter)

Mike McIntyre of the mighty Freep clicked out a tweet today about a story that appeared Sunday in the broadsheet by Sandy Klowak.

The story had to do with the city’s latest homicide victim, Abdul Jemei, and how even in death, he was able to help his family out.

While the stories about Jemei have focused largely on him, his life and his background, there’s been little said about the people accused of killing him, nor (possibly the most unanswered question of all time), why he was killed.

Doing the usual court scan today, I came across the name of the 16-year-old boy who police have charged with second-degree murder for Jemai’s stabbing death.

My heart went cold.

It’s not the first, second nor even third time this kid’s made the news.

I last wrote about him roughly three years ago in connection to a case that had me shaking my head over the two years I covered it. Here’s how it started.

Boy, 13, charged with raping and beating girl

Winnipeg Free Press
Tue Sep 9 2008
Page: B2
Section: City
Byline: James Turner

A 13-year-old boy accused of raping, repeatedly battering and leaving an Internet “friend” bleeding in a Portage Avenue building has been released from custody.

The boy is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm after he and the 13-year-old victim — a friend he met on the Internet — had been out drinking and hanging out with other friends downtown.

Early Aug. 8, the two wound up in a stairwell of a downtown building where the boy allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward the girl. When she refused to co-operate, he is alleged to have dragged her by the legs down two flights of stairs before repeatedly beating her and viciously sexually assaulting her.

He fled the scene. Police found the girl the next morning and took her to hospital.

Crown attorney Victoria Cornick said the girl suffered broken teeth and severe swelling to her face and other parts of her body.

The boy was arrested the same day and confessed in a videotaped statement to police, Cornick said.

The Crown was opposed to his release, arguing he’s a high-risk individual who won’t obey court orders.

The boy’s lawyer blamed his actions and classification as “high-risk” on his upbringing on a northern reserve where kids are largely unsupervised.

“It’s a universal problem in the community,” Bill Armstrong said.

On the night in question, the boy was said to have been angry over others making fun of his “manhood” and bravery when he refused to fight older boys involved in a street gang.

The youth was released on bail last Friday after provincial court Judge Lee Ann Martin ruled that the boy’s CFS group home could properly supervise him while his case is in the courts.

Martin ordered the boy to abide by a curfew, and to have no contact with the victim, possess no weapons and seek treatment for substance abuse.

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The boy was ultimately convicted for this crime — and the facts only seemed to get worse — in July 2009.

I covered it on radio for the CBC, but can’t find a related web story. Luckily, colleague Gabrielle Giroday was also there.

I’m not joking when I say the efforts that went into sentencing this kid (from the Crown, defence, social-workers, probation officers etc…) were near-legendary.

Countless court hearings to determine the best sentence for him and (ostensibly) the public, followed by judicial reviews of his time in the community after the custodial part of his sentence ended.

Still, he’s been charged more times than a marathoner’s iPod.

The following list is practically boilerplate these days:

  • Teen given every benefit of the youth criminal justice system’s rehabilitative aspects. Check.
  • Multiple accusations of probation/court order breaches. Check.
  • Out on bail and facing weapons and breach charges at the time of the Jemei murder allegation. Check.

Breach Conditions of Youth Criminal Justice Act sentence: Jan 16

Breach conditions of release to reside as directed: 10 to 14 Feb.

Possess weapon for a dangerous purpose: Jan 16 (he was handed a five-year mandatory weapons prohibition for the sexual assault)

While I can take some comfort that Mr. Jemei may not have died completely in vain, I feel horrible for his family.

And some small part of me (the pessimistic, fearful one) can’t help but wonder how many other kids like the one accused here roam our streets with virtual impunity.

The problem is that we just don’t ever seem to know until it’s too late.

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