A teenager who admitted kicking and clubbing another teenage boy to death in a racially charged swarming fell in with a bad crowd but stands a good chance of being rehabilitated, says a forensic psychologist.
Patrick Bartel told the teen's sentencing hearing yesterday that the Indo-Canadian boy's parents were ill-equipped to help him adapt to a new culture after they came to Canada 12 years ago.
Feeling alienated, he got into fights, and after being transferred to another high school, joined a fringe group of fellow Indo-Canadians who cultivated a gang-like image, Dr. Bartel said.
The group drank, smoked pot and got into fights. The trouble culminated in the Nov. 28, 2003, beating death of Mr. Lanot, a 16-year-old son of Filipino immigrants.
Mr. Lanot was returning home after playing basketball in a Vancouver park with friends when they were chased by the group. The attackers caught up with Mr. Lanot, kicking him and beating him with bats, a bottle and a steering-wheel lock, crushing his skull.
Three teenagers were charged initially with second-degree murder in the attack, which the local Filipino community called racially motivated.
But charges against two others were stayed after witnesses altered their testimony, and another teen, now 19, pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter.
Lawyers for the teen -- who can't be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act -- want him to be sentenced as a young offender, which would mean a maximum of three years.
Crown prosecutor Hank Reiner is expected to demand an adult sentence, which for manslaughter can be as long as 10 years.
In cross-examining Dr. Bartel, defence lawyer Deanne Gaffar suggested that jailing the teen, who has been out on bail, would jeopardize his chances of staying out of trouble in the future.
She seized on the psychologist's analysis that the teen took part in fights out of a need to fit in and that he's been well-behaved while on supervised release since the killing.
Putting him back into a situation where he would feel forced to return to anti-social behaviour to survive would increase the chances he would reoffend once released, Ms. Gaffar suggested.
Dr. Bartel, the Crown's witness, said the teen could be treated in a provincial or federal facility and agreed he might do better in a more comfortable setting.
Dr. Bartel had already concluded the young man displays none of the main risk factors to reoffend. He appears committed to his family and schoolwork, another sign he's a good candidate for rehabilitation.
Unless he reconnects with anti-social groups and lapses into old behaviours, the teen likely won't need long-term supervision, Dr. Bartel said. The psychologist told Mr. Reiner earlier that in his interview, the teen displayed a limited insight into himself, and tests showed he was of low to average intelligence and scholastic ability.
While he didn't suffer from any psychological disturbance, Dr. Bartel said the teen had a mild "conduct disorder."
He didn't show any hatred for the victim during the attack but had little empathy either, Dr. Bartel said. In retrospect, he shows some remorse for the consequences of his actions for the Lanot family and his own.
Ms. Gaffar got Dr. Bartel to back away from assertions that the tall, powerfully built teen was an intimidating bully.
A forensic psychologist testified earlier for the defence that the teen had changed almost everything in his life since killing Mr. Lanot, giving up drugs and living within rules.
The prospect of the teen receiving a youth sentence has angered Mr. Lanot's family and the Filipino community, which staged a small demonstration on the courthouse steps yesterday.
The hearing in B.C. Supreme Court will resume next Thursday for two days, when Mr. Justice Lance Bernard will hear victim-impact statements and sentencing recommendations from both sides.