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Man from violent country deserves break on sentence in Kitchener stabbing, lawyer tells judge & More News

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KITCHENER — An El Salvador native who stabbed a teenager in the back in Kitchener last year deserves a break on his sentence because he grew up in a violent country, his defence lawyer says.

“He comes from a country in which violence is the norm and conflicts are dealt with with violence, and that’s what he did in this case,” Patricia King argued in Kitchener court earlier this month.

“That diminishes responsibility because that is the behaviour that he has learned from his background.”

After a verbal argument with a teen he knew, the man, 19 at the time, stabbed him in the back as he was walking away. The victim, also 19, was unarmed. He required 25 stitches.

The attack happened on the night of March 6, 2021, in the area of Ralgreen Crescent and Overlea Drive in Kitchener. After a trial, the Cambridge man was convicted of aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. The knife was not found.

Superior Court Justice Gerry Taylor questioned King’s argument that the man has diminished responsibility because he grew up in El Salvador, which at one point was one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

“Isn’t that an extremely dangerous road to go down, that a court in Canada justifies the use of violence to deal with a verbal dispute because that was what the accused learned in his home country and therefore it’s appropriate conduct in Canada?” he said.

King: “I’m not saying that, your honour. It’s not appropriate at all.”

Judge: “It seems to me that that’s what you’re saying.”

King: “I’m saying that it diminishes his responsibility.”

Judge: “So a person who is born in Canada who stabs someone in the back as they’re walking away from a verbal altercation would be deserving of a particular sentence but a person who does exactly the same thing who was born and spent childhood years in a country where violence was the norm is deserving of a lesser sentence? That’s what you’re saying, is it not?”

King: “That is a learned behaviour, your honour. That’s what he learned, that’s what he knew and that’s why he did what he did.”

The assailant, who immigrated to Canada in 2017 and is a permanent resident, will likely be deported.

He fears returning to violent El Salvador, King said. Gang-related murders have surged, especially in big cities such as San Salvador, which is where he would likely live if deported, she said.

“Isn’t there something ironic about a man who’s convicted of a wounding, stabbing a person in the back, raising the issue that ‘I don’t want to live in a violent society’?” the judge said.

“He’s experienced a lot along those lines in his life, your honour,” King said. “I don’t think anybody would not want to stay in Canada if they had to go back to that.”

When the man was young teen, gang members tried to stab him while he waited for a bus, his mother said.

The man has no prior record. He hopes to become a dentist.

“He has a supportive family,” the judge said. “He has aspirations to further his education and become a contributing member of society.”

King sought two consecutive sentences of six months less a day. The sentence would likely give her client the right to appeal deportation.

Crown prosecutor Erin Jamieson asked for a sentence of 24 to 30 months.

“The victim was turned away and was removing himself when he was stabbed,” she said, adding the attack was inexplicable.

The judge decided on 18 months in jail

“This was a vicious and unprovoked attack on an unarmed victim,” he said.

“The community has a right to expect that this type of conduct with the consequent results will not be accepted. It is appropriate to send the message to (him) and others like him that resolving verbal disputes with a knife will not be tolerated.”

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