Judge rules moving teenage killer to adult jail was lawful

An 18-year-old whose short life has been punctuated by anger, violence and a conviction for stabbing a man to death will remain in an adult jail after a judge refused to return him to a Nova Scotia youth centre to serve his sentence.

In February, the teen appealed a decision by corrections officials to move him to the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in New Glasgow. He asked to be returned to the youth centre in Waterville, where he had been serving a sentence for second-degree murder.

He was removed from the youth centre in September 2016 after he allegedly incited a riot where four workers were seriously injured, according to a written decision released Monday from Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski.

In his decision, the judge ruled it was lawful to move the teen from the youth centre. The move had been ordered by the province's executive director of corrections, who decided the teen was a danger to other youth and staff at the Waterville centre. 

The teen's identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. 

He's serving a youth sentence of nearly four years of intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision after he pleaded guilty in June 2015 to second-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of 28-year-old Daniel Pellerin. 

Pellerin was found clinging to life in a parking lot in Dartmouth on August 29, 2014. He later died in hospital. The teen who committed the crime was only 15 at the time.

Teen preferred jail to youth centre

The teenager's lawyer argued in March he should be returned to the youth centre for several reasons. At the jail, he couldn't access the same kind of programs he could at the centre. He was isolated from other offenders and had less freedom to move around compared to Waterville.  

In his decision, Rosinski states there was no evidence the teenager at any time complained about his time at the jail. In fact, he told officials he wanted to stay there rather than go back to the youth centre. 

That all changed in February when the teen suddenly didn't want to stay at the jail anymore. 

Teen impulsive, violent rule breaker

Since being in custody, the teen has made little progress in trying to curb his violent tendencies. In a letter quoted in the court decision, Dr. Jose Mejia, a psychiatrist who worked with the teen, shared his thoughts on the boy's rehabilitation with the superintendent at the youth centre.

The teen "is very well-known for his impulsive and instrumental displays of violence, threats of violence, continuous violation of rules, introductions of drugs and fabrications of weapons and intoxicants.

"He is also clearly manipulative and deceitful and despite the best efforts of a well-structured team working in his intensive rehabilitation as per [intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision] sentence, he has shown very few positive gains while taking advantage of every opportunity he gets to demonstrate his criminal skill and versatility."    

Mejia goes on to recommend that the teen continue serving his sentence at an adult facility where "the level of security can warrant the safety of staff and peers."

Teen will remain in jail for the time being

The teenager was well-behaved at the jail for months, but became extremely angry on Feb. 23.

During a meeting with health-care professionals, he said that any attempt to place him somewhere other than his old unit in the youth centre would result in "blood flowing."

The teen will remain in the jail for the immediate future. He will be in youth court in May to answer to the riot allegations and an application by the Crown to have an adult sentence imposed on him for that offence.