Court hears details on mental health of teen who killed baby

By Chris Vandenbreekel/CJME News Staff
December 12, 2017 - 6:01pm

The sentencing hearing continues this week for the teenager who brutally murdered six-week-old Nikosis Jace Cantre in July 2016.

A judge is weighing the evidence and will decide whether the now 18-year-old will be sentenced as a youth or an adult for the second-degree murder.

The teen pleaded guilty to the killing in October 2016. In a hearing last Wednesday, a video of the teen’s confession played, detailing the gruesome attack.

Because she was 16 at the time, the teen can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act unless she is sentenced as an adult.

The court heard from Jennifer Peterson, provincial coordinator for the Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) program, who detailed expert analysis of the teen’s mental state.

Peterson said she co-ordinated a conference call with a psychologist and other staff who worked with the teen since her arrest on July 3, 2016.

She said the psychologist was concerned the teen was “borderline” functional, though her IQ indicated she should have more ease with day-to-day life.

The girl was also diagnosed with conduct disorder – a mental condition presenting as a pattern of violating others’ rights and social norms.

Peterson said the psychologist was uncertain whether the teen could learn from the treatment IRCS offers, which usually can lower a young person’s risk of re-offending.

She noted the teen would need life-long treatment, which IRCS wouldn’t be able to provide.

The description came after another witness called by the Crown described how the teen’s years in custody would go if she were sentenced as a youth.

Joan Whitton-Williams, programs director at Paul Dojack Youth Centre in Regina, detailed the educational programs and workshops the teen would undergo as well as what her living conditions would be like.

The youth centre is the only facility in the province that houses teenaged girls serving youth prison sentences.

The teen has already been staying at Paul Dojack while her case works through the court system, and Whitton-Williams said their interactions have been positive.

She noted the teen has shown interest in being involved with Christmas projects, though there has been some “immature” behaviour.

Whitton-Williams said if the teen were to serve her sentence as a youth, she would be able to stay at the facility until she turned 20 years old. She would live in a unit with approximately four to seven other girls, while being supervised by two staff members at all times.

The teen would have a private room, along with access to a common area with a ping pong table and television.

However, if she were to exhibit violent behaviour, Whitton-Williams said the teen would be placed in a “stabilization” cell similar to solitary confinement. The cell has a food slot for meal times, and a toilet.

She said while most teens only have to stay in a stabilization cell for a few hours, some who couldn’t re-integrate have stayed for up to two years.

Tuesday afternoon’s session was scheduled to detail how the teenager’s sentence would play out if she is sentenced as an adult.

An adult second-degree murder sentence carries a maximum of 20 years behind bars, or life in prison if deemed a dangerous offender, while a youth sentence could have the teen serve four years in custody and three years of probation after.

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