Five accused of murdering boy in Quinte West make court appearances

Five Quinte region residents accused of murdering a 17-year-old boy made brief court appearances on Thursday.

Justice of the Peace David J. Auger oversaw a packed docket in Belleville’s Ontario Court of Justice on Thursday, March 14. The accused appeared remotely as their lawyers, each in turn, pushed for disclosure from the Crown.

The provincial Crown attorney on hand insisted that the information package was being completed and would begin to be released to the defenders late this week. “Our office is trying to get it out as soon as possible, but I’m sure you can imagine it’ll be quite extensive,” she noted.

Aaron Ryan and Harold Russell made their virtual appearances from Central East Detention Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, while Morgan Belyea and Kadijha Cournyea appeared from Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee. None spoke as their lawyers made arrangements for their next appearances late this month.

The only face not shown was Steven Courneyea’s. He came late to the proceedings via phone from Quinte Detention Centre. According to the paralegal representing his interests on behalf of lawyer Ruth Roberts, Courneyea had apparently been transferred within the last few days from CEDC to QDC.

He indicated that, in fact, within the last half hour, Roberts’ office had begun receiving disclosure from the Crown.

Steven Courneyea and Morgan Belyea

There was some confusion about Steven Courneyea’s appearance, as he was meant to appear in Bail Court on Thursday, according to the court officers. That turned out to be related to separate charges that included warrants for his arrest related to break-and-enter and theft.

All five homicide-related matters are subject to a publication ban under Section 517 of the Criminal Code of Canada. An order under this section bans the publication of information arising during a bail hearing and the reasons given by the judge until the accused is discharged or, if they are ordered to stand trial, the trial has ended. 

Auger explained to the court that the matters would be separated for Steven Cournyea: “The murder is a 469. So it’s going to be going to SCJ (Superior Court of Justice) at some point. Those other [charges] will stay in OJC (Ontario Court of Justice).” Section 469 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the jurisdiction of every criminal court to try certain indictable offences, except for specific exceptions and accessory offences.

The five accused from various parts of Quinte region are accused of murdering 17-year-old Kiean Stoddard, whose lifeless body was found in a Quinte West motel in early January.

Quinteist will continue to provide updated coverage of this matter as more information becomes available.

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