Teen accused of posting Facebook hit list agrees to plead guilty for no jail time

By Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press

The social networking site Facebook login webpage is seen on a computer screen in Ottawa in this August 27, 2009 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

VANCOUVER, B.C. – A B.C. teenager intends to plead guilty to posting a hit list on Facebook targeting 117 of his peers and teachers because it’s a charge the Crown could prove, his lawyer said Friday.

Defence lawyer David Karp said his 19-year-old client has agreed to plead guilty to three of 11 charges in a deal that will ensure he gets no jail time.

“What the prosecutor has offered is a reasonable offer,” Karp said in an interview.

“After sitting down with my client, he’s decided to take the offer as opposed to running the risk of going to trial and being convicted of some things and having a more serious sentence imposed at the end of that.”

Karp said the charges relate to posting the Facebook threats, uttering threats against a peer and possession of a non-registered firearm.

“I felt that those were some of the counts they could prove. Several of the other ones they couldn’t prove,” he said.

The Vancouver student, who was 18 years old when he was arrested in June, cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

He was taken into custody after several students who saw their names on the list contacted police, though many students knew it had been online for months. Vancouver police said at the time it was the most serious school incident they’ve ever dealt with, while media made comparisons to the 1999 Colombine massacre and 2006 Dawson College rampage in Montreal.

Police seized an arsenal of weapons during the teen’s arrest, including a shotgun, ammunition, collapsible metal batons and a machete.

Karp says the judge must accepts the deal at a sentencing hearing on Jan. 19. The teen will be required to undergo a second psychological examination prior to sentencing.

“We’ve always taken the position that at no time did he pose a threat,” Karp said, adding the assessment is mostly a formality to ensure nothing has changed since the first one.

“That doctor stated emphatically that there was no immediate threat,” he said.

Sentencing may include probationary terms similar to those he’s living under now, Karp said.

Since the summer the teen has been free on bail, living at his family’s home and attending university for a degree in sciences. Karp said he’s suggested he would eventually like to study at medical school.

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