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Accused murderer, boardwalk stabber refuses to answer judge's repeated questions

Appearing at Wednesday's hearing through a live video feed from the Thunder Bay Jail, Steven Jones barely nodded when judge asked him to verbally answer her questions

Despite numerous prompts from the judge to answer if he understood her orders during a court appearance today, accused murderer Steven Jones only acknowledged her with a subtle nod or a muted shake of his head.

The murder and attempted murder charges against Jones were withdrawn from the Ontario Court of Justice on Monday and replaced with identical charges in the Superior Court of Justice by direct indictment. 

The allegations against Jones have not been tested in court, and he is considered innocent unless proven guilty.

On Wednesday, Jones made his first appearance in front of a Superior Court judge by video from the Thunder Bay Jail. Jones was dressed in an orange shirt and the long hair he had in earlier appearances has been trimmed short.

With the charges newly moved to the higher court, Justice Susan Stothart was asked by Crown Attorney Lindsey Santerre to make a new non-contact order for the accused to replace the one that was vacated in the Ontario Court of Justice.

When the names of the people he can't contact in relation to the murder charge were read aloud, Stothart asked Jones if he knew any of them. Barely moving, he silently shook his head no.

Stothart instructed Jones to speak instead of gesturing and confirmed with jail staff that the microphone was working. Still, Jones only shook his head. Asked if he understood the order, Jones barely made an attempt to nod in the affirmative.

Jones gave the same non-verbal responses when Stothart read out the names on the non-contact order for the attempted murder charge. She explained to Jones that she required a verbal response because it was being read into the record and defence attorney Rebecca Silver of Furgiuele Law also prompted him to speak.

Again, he did not.

Stothart said she would take his gestures as responses to her questions about the orders and Silver said she would follow up with her client to ensure he understands them.

A pre-trial date was set for Sept. 18, with a return to court on Sept. 25.

Jones is facing the murder charge in relation to the Sept. 7, 2023 killing of 22-year-old Taylor Marshall, who was found dead in her John Street apartment that evening. 

Earlier that same day, Jones was arrested and charged with attempted murder near the scene of a boardwalk stabbing that left Liam Frenette with serious injuries.

It wasn't until a week later, on Sept. 14, that Sault Police announced that investigators had linked Jones to the scene of the Marshall murder and charged him accordingly. Police said at the time that Jones did not know the victims, suggesting both attacks were random.

Furgiuele Law is a Toronto-based firm known for its work in complex trials. Its website highlights a case in which lawyers were able to successfully argue an accused was not criminally responsible in a stabbing death due to schizophrenia (R v Worrie, 2022).

The site also lists other cases that ended in acquittals or overturned convictions.

Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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