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Teen pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of homeless man in downtown Toronto

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One of eight teen girls charged in the death of a homeless man in downtown Toronto pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday.

Three 13-year-olds, three 14-year-olds and two 16-year-olds were initially charged with second-degree murder in the death of Kenneth Lee, a 59-year-old man police say was living in the city's shelter system.

Lee died in December 2022 after police allege he was swarmed and stabbed by eight teen girls.

A judge recently committed six of the teens to stand trial on second-degree murder and two on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The girl who pleaded guilty Thursday was 13 at the time of the incident and is now 15. She is scheduled to return to court on July 12.

Four other girls are expected to plead guilty in the case in the weeks to come.

One is expected to plead guilty to manslaughter, but the court has not heard what charges the others are expected to plead guilty to.

The remaining three are expected to stand trial in Superior Court. A trial date has not yet been set.

None of the accused can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The act states that the fact that youth are still maturing must be accounted for in the prosecution of crimes. It also emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Lee's family has previously spoken out against the protection provided by the act, arguing the law does not help victims or the public.

A relative described Lee as a "kind soul with a heart of gold." Community members have said the quiet man from Hong Kong was trying to defend a friend before the attack.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2024.

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