WATCH ABOVE: The teenager accused in the death of a York Regional Police officer has been found guilty. Catherine McDonald reports.
TORONTO – A jury has found a teenager guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of York Regional Police officer Garrett Styles.
The 19-year-old accused, referred to as S.K. because he was 15 years old at the time, was behind the wheel of a minivan when 32-year-old Styles was killed.
In the early morning of June 28, 2011, a Dodge Caravan full of teenagers driven by S.K. was out joyriding when they were pulled over by Styles.
The Crown alleged that the 15-year-old driver fled, dragging Styles, who was hanging out of the van, for a distance of roughly 300 metres. The teen then lost control of the vehicle and it rolled. Styles was killed and the teen was paralyzed in the incident.
As the 12-member jury read the guilty verdict, the parents of the accused shouted and burst into tears in the Newmarket, Ont. court room. Global News reporter Catherine McDonald tweeted that came to the courtroom with a stretcher to help the distraught mother of the accused.
The jury took three days to render a verdict asking Judge Alex Sosna several times for help. Sosna had instructed jury members to focus solely on the issue of guilt and he would hand down the sentence.
The trial was emotional for the families of Styles and the teenager. Styles leaves behind a wife and two young children.
“All we ever wanted was for the accused to be held accountable for his actions which cost Garrett his life,” said his wife Melissa in a statement. “We are pleased with the outcome in this trial. This serves as a reminder to all that there are consequences to the choices you make.”
York Regional’s chief of police also expressed his satisfaction with the verdict in a statement Thursday evening.
“His (Garrett’s) loss is still felt every day across our organization,” said Chief Eric Jolliffe. “We respect the justice system in which we operate and believe justice has been done in this case.”
First-degree murder carries an automatic life prison sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for adults, but in this case because S.K. was a minor when the incident occurred even if he’s sentenced as an adult the maximum sentence he will face is 10 years with no eligibility for parole.