Quick Spin on Canada’s Justice Carousel
It may be legal, but it sure ain’t right.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Toronto — Two young men convicted of manslaughter in the death of a 15-year-old boy who was kicked in the head over a pack of cigarettes have been freed less than two years after they were sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Meir Mariani and Lee Cochrane were released from prison earlier this week after completing two-thirds of their sentences, said Julia Noonan, a spokeswoman with Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Matti was in a North Toronto park in November, 1999, when he was swarmed by about a dozen youths, some of whom began kicking him repeatedly in the head in an effort to steal pocket change, drugs and a pack of cigarettes.
He later died in hospital of a ruptured artery.
Mr. Mariani and Mr. Cochrane were both 20 when they were convicted of manslaughter in July, 2003, and sentenced to 10 years in prison five months later. A third man, 22-year-old Daniel Weiz, was acquitted of charges in the case.
Because Mr. Mariani and Mr. Cochrane had spent four years in pre-sentence custody, Justice David McCombs decided – as is standard – to count that time as eight years served and subsequently ordered the men to each serve two years less a day in jail.
That decision was based on a two-for-one rule that gives double credit to inmates who served time before a trial because they were not eligible for parole or other programs. The pair were denied parole last summer.
“They were serving sentences of two years less a day, they were denied parole this past August, and then they would have to serve their complete two-thirds,” Ms. Noonan said.
“They’ve completed their two-thirds, so (now) they’d be under three years community supervision.”
She refused to disclose any details about where either one of the men is living or the terms of their release.
“I can’t tell you that for security reasons,” she said. “Especially for high-profile cases, it can be a security risk to identify where individuals are being supervised within a community.”
The two were denied parole last August, out of fears of more violence and reports that they had smoked marijuana while behind bars.
In refusing their parole applications, the Ontario Parole and Earned Release Board described Mr. Cochrane as “unstable” and having a history of ”combative altercations.” It also cited Mr. Mariani’s behaviour as ”less than favourable and actually declining.”
Matti, a straight-A student who dreamed of becoming a doctor, had immigrated to Canada with his mother from Israel two years before his death. The killing prompted his classmates to raise $6,000 for anti-violence initiatives, and the Toronto police formed an anti-swarming task force to stem violent youth acts.
Mr. Mariani and Mr. Cochrane had originally been charged as youths but their cases were bumped to adult court a year later.