Seven of eight teen girls who are facing charges of second-degree murder in connection with the alleged "swarming" death of Ken Lee made an appearance in youth court in downtown Toronto on Friday.
Lee, 59, of Toronto, was pronounced dead in hospital after he was allegedly beaten and stabbed by a group of girls not far from a downtown shelter in the early morning hours of Dec. 18, 2022.
All eight girls, who range in age from 13 to 16, are charged with second-degree murder. One was previously granted bail in late December.
The seven will remain in custody after the day-long bail hearing. In court, the teens were seated side by side.
The identities of the accused cannot be released under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Toronto police have said three of the girls have had previous contact with police.
Friday's appearance was part of bail proceedings for the accused. After Friday's hearing each of the seven remaining girls will have their own day in court to seek bail. The teens are expected to appear for individual bail hearings beginning next Tuesday.
A pre-trial publication ban covering any evidence described in court on Friday is in place.
At multiple points during court's afternoon session, Justice Maria Sirivar stared down at the girls, who were all seated on one side of a full courtroom. At one point, the judge said she was "distracted by all of the smirking" coming from some of the accused.
The attack on Lee began after the girls allegedly took a liquor bottle from the victim and his friend, a witness previously told CBC Toronto.
In a statement issued earlier this week, Lee's family said he was a "kind soul with a heart of gold.
"He was not in the system due to alcohol or drug abuse," said a statement from Lee's brother-in-law, Eric Shum.
"He was a man with pride who had fallen and wanted to learn to stand up on his own knowing that he always had his family behind him," Shum said.