Five accused in Quinte West murder of 17-year-old appear in court

The Quinte Consolidated Courthouse, which houses the Ontario Court of Justice, in Belleville. Photo via the Ministry of the Attorney General on Flickr.

Five Quinte region residents accused of murdering a 17-year-old made brief court appearances this week.

Justice of the Peace David J. Auger oversaw a packed docket in Belleville’s Ontario Court of Justice on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024. The accused parties appeared remotely, as their lawyers, each in turn, pushed for disclosure from the Crown.

The provincial Crown attorney on hand insisted that the information package was being completed and would begin to be released to the defence teams late this week.

“Our office is trying to get it out as soon as possible, but I’m sure you can imagine, it’ll be quite extensive,” she noted.

Aaron Ryan and Harold Russell made their virtual appearances from Central East Detention Centre (CEDC) in Lindsay, Ontario, while Morgan Belyea and Kadijha Courneyea appeared from Quinte Detention Centre (QDC) in Napanee. None of the accused did any speaking, as their lawyers made arrangements for their next appearances late this month.

The only face not shown was Steven Courneyea, who came late to the proceedings via phone from Quinte Detention Centre. According to the paralegal representing his interests on behalf of lawyer Ruth Roberts, Courneyea had apparently been transferred within the last few days from CEDC to QDC.

He indicated that, in fact, within the half hour leading up to the court proceedings, Roberts’ office had begun receiving disclosure from the Crown.

There was some confusion about Steven Courneyea’s appearance, as he was meant to appear in Bail Court on Thursday, according to the court officers. That turned out to be related to separate charges that included warrants for his arrest related to break-and-enter and theft.

All five homicide-related matters are subject to a publication ban under Section 517 of the Criminal Code of Canada. An order under this section bans the publication of information arising during a bail hearing and the reasons given by the judge until the accused is discharged or, if they are ordered to stand trial, the trial has ended. 

Auger explained to the court that the matters would be separated for Steven Cournyea, “The murder is a 469. So it’s going to be going to SCJ (Superior Court of Justice) at some point. Those other [charges] will stay in OJC (Ontario Court of Justice).”

Section 469 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the jurisdiction of every court of criminal jurisdiction to try certain indictable offences, except for specific exceptions and accessory offences.

The five accused from various parts of Quinte region are accused of murdering 17-year-old Kiean Stoddard, whose lifeless body was found in a Quinte West motel in early January.

Kingstonist will continue to provide updated coverage of this matter as more information becomes available.

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