A 17-year-old girl accused of pressuring her teenaged boyfriend to kill 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
A Toronto jury began deliberations on Wednesday afternoon and came back with the guilty verdict shortly after 3.30 p.m. Friday (March 20).
The accused, known as M.T. because she was a young offender at the time of the slaying, broke down and cried when Justice Ian Nordheimer read out the verdict. Her family sitting behind her also wept. On the opposite side of the courtroom the Rengel family quietly cried and hugged one another.
Throughout her trial, M.T. had been portrayed as self absorbed, jealous and the driving force behind Rengel’s murder.
The Crown argued that M.T., who was 15 years old at the time of the murder, convinced her teenaged boyfriend, known only as D.B., to kill Stefanie, 14, whom she had never met yet regarded as an adversary. Stefanie was stabbed six times and left to die on a snow bank near her East York home on New Year’s Day, 2008.
The jury was shown extensive evidence gleaned from internet chat rooms and retrieved from M.T. and D.B.’s computers; evidence showing the pair had discussed killing Stefanie as far back as May, 2007.
Outside the University Avenue court house, Crown counsel Robin Flumerfelt read a statement for the Rengel family and said he would be asking that M.T. be sentenced as an adult.
“We hope at the sentencing that justice will be served and that a clear message is sent that murder at any age has serious consequences,” said Flumerfelt.
Toronto police Detective Sergeant Steve Ryan, who interrogated M.T. the night she was arrested, presented crucial evidence at the trial. He also commented after the verdict.
“I am pleased. The jury did their due diligence and came back with the appropriate verdict,” said Det. Ryan. ” My belief is Stefanie wouldn’t have died had it not been for (M.T.)” he added.
Flumerfelt said the evidence pointing to M.T.’s involvment was overwhelming. “She (Stefanie) is gone. For one reason and one reason only, M.T. decided it was time for her to die,” Flumerfelt said during his closing arguments.
M.T., represented by defence counsel Marshall Sack, is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
The trial for D.B., accused of first-degree murder, is set to begin sometime this fall.
Filed by Monique Plessas
with files from Ryan Sang