'It's a big loss': Emotional day in court for family of Brady Francis
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2018 8:39PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 11, 2018 7:40AM ADT
It was an emotional day for the family of Brady Francis as the man accused in his death was scheduled to make his first court appearance.
More than 40 of Francis’ friends and family members piled into a Moncton courtroom Tuesday, many of them donning T-shirts bearing the young man’s face.
Francis was struck and killed by a vehicle in Saint-Charles, N.B., the night of Feb. 24. Police found 22-year-old Francis on the side of Saint-Charles South Road around 9:30 p.m.
They believe Francis had been standing on the side of the road, waiting for a drive home, when he was struck. Francis, a member of the Elsipogtog First Nation, died at the scene.
Last month, a 56-year-old man from Saint-Charles was charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily harm or death.
Maurice Johnson was scheduled to enter a plea Tuesday. His lawyer, Gilles Lemieux, appeared on his client’s behalf and was granted an extension.
Francis’ mother says she is disappointed Johnson didn’t appear in court and enter a plea.
“I kind of expected this to happen, so it wasn’t a surprise,” said Jessica Perley. “We were just hoping that maybe he would man up and just plead guilty.”
Johnson is not required to be present for a plea hearing. His lawyer asked for a postponement so they could have more time to review the Crown's case.
Investigators allege Johnson fled the scene the night Francis was struck and killed.
Police have confirmed they seized Johnson’s truck as part of their investigation on Feb. 25. They also arrested him in March, but he was released without charges at that time.
Francis' cousin, Roy Francis, says the last five months have been difficult on the family.
“It hurts,” he said. “It hurts me, so it must hurt his parents, it must hurt the grandparents, because it's a big loss.”
Teacher Patty Musgrave fondly remembered her former student.
“He was funny, and really wanted to take his time to decide what he wanted to take in post-secondary,” said Musgrave. “He was amazing, he was a good kid.”
“It's overwhelming, but it's a good feeling,” said the victim's sister, Sara Perley-Francis.
Johnson is due back in court on Aug. 21. Francis’ family says they will be in attendance.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis.