Two 17-year-olds plead not guilty to three counts of murder, conspiracy
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 7:41AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:07AM EST
A pair of 17-year-old boys appeared in a Trois Rivieres courtroom Wednesday to plead not guilty to a triple murder.
The suspects are accused of entering a home on Sicard St. on Tuesday morning and killing a woman, 22, her 17-year-old sister and her boyfriend, also 17.
They also face three charges of conspiracy to kill several police officers, as well as the mother of two of the victims.
Their next court appearance is Feb. 25, and they will remain in custody until then.
The crown has asked that the teenagers be sentenced as adults if convicted, which comes with an automatic sentence of 25 years without parole.
Youth convicted of first-degree murder are eligible for parole after serving ten years in prison.
Crown names three victims
The Crown identified the victims in court on Wednesday, but CTV legal counsel is of the opinion that minors should not be identified without written consent from next of kin.
Friends and family are writing condolences on the Facebook pages of the three victims, and several RIP pages have also been established.
Some media reports have suggested that the tragedy was sparked by jealous outrage, as one of the accused murderers was said to have been jealous of his ex-girlfriend's new relationship.
Police say someone was able to call 9-1-1 as the murderers entered the house, leading police to rush to the home and arrest two minors as they were leaving.
Friends and neighbours who gathered outside the police perimeter on Tuesday said they had last seen their friends alive the previous day as they left school.
Police investigators were at the home until early in the morning Wednesday, conducting a thorough search for clues to build their case against the suspects.
Police say the three victims were shot to death, and believe the suspects took two buses from the Trois Rivieres neighbourhood of Cap de la Madeleine before walking to the house and ringing the front doorbell.
Trois-Rivieres police spokesperson Michel Letarte said the victims suffered “violent deaths.”
Letarte told CTV Montreal that investigators are exploring whether a love triangle sparked the killings.
“With all the social media around a lot of people are talking and writing some stuff,” Letarte said. “That’s kind of part of our investigation right now.”
Rene Duval, a lawyer for the accused, said that if two teens are found guilty, the Crown can apply to the court to have them sentenced as adults.
“Which means, in a case like this one, under the Juvenile Act, that they are liable to be sentenced to 10 years in jail with no possibility of parole,” Duval told reporters outside court Wednesday.
Meanwhile, flags were lowered to half-mast outside the high school that one of the young female victims attended. The school also called in 30 grief counsellors to help students and staff.
Principal Rejean Lemay said that the victim “was a true leader. She was very involved, so the shock is even worse.”
Carole Bernier, who lives near the home in which the victims were found, said that if such a crime could happen in their community, “it could happen in the next town.
“It’s just a big tragedy.”
The next court appearance for the two teens is scheduled for Feb. 25.