Legal fight to decide if convict will be sentenced as adult



EDMONTON — A young woman convicted in the brutal sex slaying of 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte is staging a constitutional challenge of her sentencing.

The 19-year-old, who cannot be named because she was 17 at the time of the incident, was convicted of manslaughter in April and could be facing life in prison if she’s sentenced as an adult.

Her defence lawyer, Colleen Connolly, told court yesterday that she wants to challenge the Youth Criminal Justice Act. She plans on arguing that it should be the Crown’s responsibility to prove that her client should be sentenced as an adult.

Currently, defence lawyers must prove to the court that their clients should be treated as a youth.

The difference between youth and adult sentencing drastically changes the teenager’s time behind bars. If she is sentenced as a youth, she’ll face a maximum of three years in prison.

Her trial is one of several involving a group of self-described mall rats that roamed the hallways of West Edmonton Mall.

Joseph Laboucan was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault in Nina’s death during an earlier trial, while another man, Michael Briscoe, was acquitted of all charges.

Laboucan and a group of mall rats convinced Nina and her friend to join them on the promise of a party before she was driven to an out-of-town golf course and beaten to death with a sledgehammer.

Another male has pleaded guilty while another teenager nicknamed Buffy — who was present at the scene of the killing — will face her own trial later this year. In court, the victim’s mother, Peacha Atkinson, sat behind the Crown prosecutor, flanked by a group of friends and family.

Yesterday’s sentencing hearing, meanwhile, is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 3.