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Witness tells court she watched fatal attack on Edmonton high school student

A witness to alleged fatal attack on an Edmonton Grade 10 student testified on Wednesday. (Sam Brooks/CBC - image credit)
A witness to alleged fatal attack on an Edmonton Grade 10 student testified on Wednesday. (Sam Brooks/CBC - image credit)

A young woman testified Wednesday that she watched as a group of boys attacked a teen who later died from his injuries.

The woman was called as a witness at a Court of King's Bench manslaughter trial for one of seven people accused in connection with the death of a 16-year-old high school boy.

The accused, referred to as S.M. in court documents, was 15 on April 8, 2022, when the victim was fatally injured.

The identities of the seven accused – all teens at the time of their arrests – are protected by court ordered publication bans, as is the identity of the victim and the name of the school he attended.

The young woman testifying Wednesday attended the same school as the Grade 10 victim, and said that she was waiting at a bus stop on the afternoon of April 8, 2022, when she saw a boy walking, being followed by a group of other teen boys.

She said it caught her attention because she could hear yelling, and that at one point one of the group jumped on the back of the boy who was being pursued. The boy got away, but as they went further he ended up on the ground, with the group of pursuers in a semi circle around him.

She said they attacked him, kicking him all over his body and punching him, including in the head. She said one of the boys was holding a hockey stick, but she's not sure if he ever struck the victim with it.

She said she also heard around 20 shots of an airsoft gun. An airsoft gun was recovered by officers at the scene, who testified earlier on Wednesday.

She told court that somehow the victim managed to get up and was walking away, coming in the direction of the bus stop as the other boys followed.

She said she could hear the other teens saying, "Where are your boys now?" and that the victim replied that it was just him.

Bystanders tried to help

Meanwhile another bystander, a man, had also seen what happened and started yelling at the boys who then left the area, she told court.

The man picked up the victim's backpack which had fallen to the ground and tried to return it, but the boy, who was stumbling, looked frightened and then collapsed, she said.

The woman called 911 and another bystander began CPR. She said at some point the boy stopped breathing, but they continued giving him compressions until emergency responders arrived and took over.

While being questioned by Crown prosecutor Jeff Rudiak, the witness said she believes the whole attack lasted about 30 seconds, but agreed with defence lawyer Brian Beresh that it could have lasted 17 seconds or less.

During cross-examination, Beresh asked the witness about her memory and if she'd followed any publicity about the case. She said she hadn't, and that she was confident in her account.

"I witnessed what I witnessed, and I will stick to that until the day I die," she replied.

She did agree that she was unable to describe or identify the group of attackers as individuals, and that the events unfold "really fast."

On Tuesday, one of the other suspects charged in the 16-year-old's death pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

According to an agreed statement of facts filed in that case, the victim died in hospital on April 15, 2022, of stab wounds sustained during the assault days earlier. Court heard the accused in that case did not hit or stab the victim.

Last year, a woman who was 17 at the time of the attack pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to an assault with a weapon. She was sentenced to one year of probation.

Another accused is scheduled to go to trial for second-degree murder in September. The three remaining accused face manslaughter charges and are set to go to trial together in November.