5 years later and this is where we are:
BY MICHELE MANDEL,TORONTO SUN
FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013 09:40 PM EDT | UPDATED: THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013 10:34 PM EDT
Five years after Boris Cikovic’s parents and friends were devastated by the senseless shooting of the popular teen in a west-end park, their painful legal odyssey is still not done.
Nor is that of the young man who insists he had nothing to do with his death.
In November 2011, a jury found Humber College student Nahoor Araya guilty of manslaughter. While not the shooter, they believed he was part of the armed gang that robbed the 17-year-old at Buttonwood Park on the night of Oct. 3, 2008.
Sentenced to eight years in prison, Araya has been free on bail ever since, pending his appeal that’s to be heard Friday.
“I’m so beaten up, nothing will surprise me,” says Cikovic’s weary father, Davorin.
Once again, as he maintained at his trial, Araya insists in documents filed with the appeal court that he was with his girlfriend that night and not at the park near Scarlett Rd. and Eglinton Ave. W. where the shooting occurred. And he maintains that his confession to his high school teacher about being at the scene was just a fabrication.
No one could identify Araya as one of the robbers that night. Instead, it was his statement to his Silverthorn Collegiate teacher, Codel Browne, that he was there when his friends decided to “roll up on some kids” that formed the centrepiece of the Crown’s case against him.
Cikovic and about 16 friends were drinking and smoking on the bleachers of the park’s tennis court when they were robbed by three or four teens wearing bandanas and hoodies and pointing guns at their heads.
When one of the bandits hit Cikovic in the face with a gun and grabbed his backpack, the teen fired his Taser and gave chase. The armed robber fired one warning shot from a .45 revolver and aimed the second at Cikovic’s abdomen. He died soon after in hospital of massive blood loss.
None of his friends could identify the assailants except to give vague descriptions that they were young black males. The police were stymied.
But four days later, a frantic Araya pulled his favourite teacher out of his English class because he needed his advice. According to Browne, the 18-year-old asked him if he’d heard about what happened over the weekend. When the teacher asked if he was referring to the murder at Buttonwood Park, Araya said he was and then tearfully said, “I just want to let you know I was there but I didn’t do it” and that “someone got shot, but I didn’t do it. I was there, I was involved but I didn’t do it. I didn’t have the gun.”
He wanted to know what to do. Browne told him to “man up” and turn himself in and warned that he would have to report their conversation. Araya was charged with second-degree murder.
No one else has ever been arrested for killing the only child of Vesna and Davorin Cikovic.
At his trial, the Crown conceded that Araya wasn’t the gunman but argued that he’d admitted participating in the armed robbery and that made him a party to the murder. But the accused killer took the stand in his own defence and told the jury that he wasn’t at the park that night, that his “confession” about being at the robbery was just a plea for help.
Araya testified that he’d been depressed about being homeless and living in a shelter and so he made up his panicked story to win his teacher’s sympathy and get him to offer him a place to stay.
The jury didn’t buy it — but they convicted him of manslaughter rather than murder.
Araya’s lawyer Michael Lacy raises nine grounds of appeal, two against the “harsh and excessive” sentence while the rest contend that Justice John McMahon made errors that require a new trial. In its factum filed with the court, the Crown argues there were no errors made and Araya’s conviction and sentence must stand.
Whatever the appeal court decides, it is likely a decision that is months in the future. And still more time that no one pays for the senseless death of a 17-year-old boy.
Cikovic’s father will be at Osgoode Hall Friday to hear Araya’s appeal but his wife will not. She has moved back to their native Croatia where their only child’s ashes have been buried.
“She couldn’t stand it anymore,” he said. “It’s almost five years now and after all this time, we still don’t know who the actual murderer is and the only one convicted is happily out on bail.”
To the Toronto Homicide Squad he is known as Homicide: #53/2008; to those of us that knew and loved him he is Boris Cikovic. A beautiful boy that had the ability to make anyone smile by just walking into a room, the son of Vesna and Davorin Cikovic…their only son. To me he is the handsome boy that all the girls had a crush on at some point while they were growing up, the boy that would come to our place and eat just about everything you put in front of him, the boy that would ask me to mousse and diffuse his hair, would eat my daughter’s crayons and my dog’s treats…the boy that would come by our place daily and bring life into our home along with him.
Boris was taken from us very abruptly one night by a bunch of low-life delinquents that had nothing better…
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