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First court appearance for boy and girl charged in death of Halifax 16-year-old


A girl and a boy, both 14 years old, made their first appearance Friday in a Halifax courtroom on charges of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a 16-year-old high school student.

Crown attorney Terry Nickerson told provincial youth court Judge Bronwyn Duffy that he will be seeking adult penalties for both of the accused, whose identities are protected from publication under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The victim, Ahmad Maher Al Marrach, was found badly injured Monday in a parking garage next to the Halifax Shopping Centre, and he died later in hospital. A well-liked student at Citadel High School in Halifax, Ahmad and his family arrived in Canada after escaping the war in Syria several years ago.

The Al Marrach family issued a statement Friday offering thanks to those who have reached out to help them.

"With heavy hearts and profound sadness, we wish to express our deepest gratitude for the outpouring of love, support and condolences we have received during this incredibly difficult time," the statement says.

"The loss of our teenage son Ahmad has left an indelible void in our lives and in the hearts of all who knew and loved him."

Halifax Regional Police issued a statement Thursday saying the two 14-year-olds were arrested late Wednesday in Lower Sackville, north of Halifax.

During their court appearance Friday, both were wearing baggy, blue pullovers and sweatpants. The boy also wore workboots with no laces and the girl wore pink slip-on sandals. The male teen sat expressionless between two sheriff's deputies during his brief appearance. The girl appeared to have tears in her eyes as she left the courtroom at the conclusion of the hearing.

The lawyer representing them agreed they should be held in custody until their next appearance on May 13, when bail will be discussed and they might choose whether to be tried by a judge and jury or by judge alone.

The judge also issued orders aimed at preventing the two from speaking with four potential witnesses, all of them youths. Other names may be added to that list, Nickerson said.

"What I don't want is a bunch of witnesses trying to get their stories straight," the Crown lawyer told the court.

Security was heavier than usual inside the courthouse, where several sheriff's deputies were posted outside the courtroom as the two accused were led inside.

The exterior of the provincial court on Spring Garden Road is pictured in Halifax on April 26, 2024. (Jonathan MacInnis/CTV Atlantic)

Outside the court, Nickerson said it was important to note the two youths will not be tried as adults, but they could both face adult sentences if convicted. If that happens, their identities will be revealed, he said.

"But we're at a very early stage in the process right now," he said.

Anyone convicted of second-degree murder faces a sentence of life in prison with no chance of applying for parole for 10 to 25 years. Second-degree murder is defined as a killing that is committed intentionally but is not premeditated or planned, which is the case for first-degree murder.

Earlier in the day, Halifax Regional Police warned people against using social media to share information that could identify the two youths.

"Halifax Regional Police has been made aware of social media posts where youths charged in a recent homicide may have been identified," the statement says.

"If a social media post identifies a youth being dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act that constitutes publication and may be grounds for a charge of breaching the publication ban provisions of the (act)."

By Friday, photos of the teens and their names were readily available on various social media platforms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.


This is a corrected story. A previous version said Ahmad was a Grade 9 student. Top Stories

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