TORONTO — A teenage boy will have to serve six months in open custody and nearly a year on probation in the death of a 14-year-old girl who was struck by a stray bullet in northwest Toronto nearly two years ago.
Lecent Ross was visiting a friend's home on July 9, 2015 when she was hit by gunfire from an illegal semi-automatic handgun.
A boy, who was 13 at the time of the shooting, was initially charged with manslaughter but pleaded guilty last fall of the lesser charge of criminal negligence causing death.
The 15-year-old's lawyer, John Erickson, said outside court Friday that the boy wasn't aware the weapon was loaded.
Erickson said the teens were in the boy's bedroom on the morning of the shooting.
"My client had recently obtained a firearm for personal protection," he said. "He didn't realize it was loaded at the time."
"He was handling it in the bedroom, moved to get past her in a fairly confined area where the bed was quite close to the wall and ... the firearm was discharged," Erickson said. "She died virtually instantly."
The lawyer said his client did not intend to hurt the girl, "he didn't intend to shoot her."
"He feels profoundly, profoundly sorry for what happened to her."
Ross' family left court Friday without commenting.
Another suspect, a man who was 18 at the time, was also charged with manslaughter in the shooting.
His name has not been released as it could reveal the name of the younger teen, who cannot legally be identified.
At the time of the arrests, Ross' mother, Alicia Jasquith, made an impassioned plea for an end to gun violence in the city.
"Please, please stop the gun violence," Jasquith said. "Too (many) of our young children are being lost to the guns."
Jasquith asked parents to watch their kids carefully.
"I'm asking please, look at your kids every day and tell them that you love them, and check in their bags, know who their friends are, know who they're hanging around with every day," she said.
Erickson said guns were common in the neighbourhood where the shooting took place.
"For police to respond to gunshots in this neighbourhood is not unusual," he said.
The Canadian Press