MANDEL: Boy’s killer in Good Samaritan playground stabbing sentenced to just 7.5 years

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Isaiah Witt stepped in to stop a fight between a group of teens in an East York park four years ago and for his trouble, the 15-year-old was stabbed to death with a knife to the chest.

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How cheap life has become. And how little prison time results.

Tyrelle Lee, 18, and Steven MacIsaac, 19, were charged with second-degree murder for the senseless slaying on Oct. 7, 2017. Following a judge-alone trial, both were convicted of manslaughter in June by Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Kelly. She found Lee wielded the weapon, but MacIsaac chased Witt and “aided and abetted” the stabbing.

So what would be a fit sentence for MacIsaac?

The Crown was seeking 10 years. The defence argued five years would be more appropriate and, with credit for his pre-trial custody, it would amount to time served.

In a recent ruling, Kelly found that while a fit sentence for the remorseful, youthful first-time offender would have been nine years, she was reducing it to seven-and-a-half due to his harsh pre-sentence time spent at Toronto South Detention Centre during lockdowns and the pandemic.

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Then she gave MacIsaac additional credit for his three years in custody at the usual 1.5 days for each day, leaving 34.5 months left to serve. Lee has yet to be sentenced.

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It was all over in mere minutes — a promising life taken for no reason at all.

The “jam” in the playground at Stan Wadlow park near Cosburn and Woodbine had been advertised on Snapchat for teens in grades 9 and 10.  Witt, a student at Wexford Collegiate for the Arts in Scarborough, was there with some of his friends.

Lee and MacIsaac, four years older, were there as well, taking shots of Captain Morgan rum. Both were armed with concealed knives, despite MacIsaac being on bail at the time for an assault charge, with a condition not to possess any weapons.

At some point, Lee and MacIsaac walked over to the younger kids and accused them of “talking sh–” about them.

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They denied the accusation and told them to “chill.” MacIsaac swung his plastic rum bottle at the head of one of the high schoolers and a melee of flying fists ensued.

“Witt intervened, using his words to try and de-escalate the situation,” the judge said. That’s when Lee and MacIsaac turned on him and pulled out their knives.

Witt began to retreat and then began to run. When he was grabbed by his gym bag, he lost his balance and tripped.

“Witt was outnumbered and trapped. Mr. MacIsaac’s assistance at the hill facilitated the commission of the crime carried out by Mr. Lee,” Kelly said.

As the boy lay helpless on the ground, Lee stabbed the boy in the chest with his gold switchblade. Both he and MacIsaac then fled the park and threw away their weapons.

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Meanwhile, Witt was dying.

“I’ve been stabbed, call an ambulance,” he cried in pain.

By the time help came, it was too late. He was gone.

“The family describes Mr. Witt as having a ‘smile that would light up a room,’” Kelly said in her reasons for sentence. “He had the ability to make ‘everyone feel important, special, loved and appreciated.’ They describe that he has left a ‘hole in our hearts that can never be filled.’”

“That said, he will be remembered as a hero.”

His rugby coach described Witt as a kind teen who made sure a transgendered student felt included and part of the team.

His pastor said he was someone who was interested in lifting weights and eating pizza, not drugs or violence.

And just a few months before he was killed, he said, Witt wrote these words in an essay: “If we could turn all the hate into electricity, we could light up the whole world.”

MacIsaac will be eligible for parole in 11 months.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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