In the wake of the victim’s death last week, one of the men charged with assault made an appearance in Fort St. John court yesterday.
Joel Christopher Marchand, 29, is charged with one count each of assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. The Prince George man was charged along with William Ted Metcalfe, 25, of Kelowna.
Complicating the matter is that fact that one of the two victims in the alleged assault passed away while at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton last Thursday afternoon after being removed from life support.
“We’ve certainly offered our condolences to the family with this turn of events of this… man dying last Thursday as a result of the incident,” said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, a senior media relations officer with the RCMP.
Though police have not identified the victim, it has been reported that Christian “Chris” Ball was one of two man assaulted in Fort St. John on July 23.
“We’re in very close contact with the family as the investigation progresses,” said Moskaluk.
Marchand made an appearance on these charges in a Fort St. John courtroom yesterday.
Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel with the criminal justice branch, Crown counsel and prosecution service said the Crown was “aware” of Ball’s death.
“We anticipate the police will be providing some additional evidence in relation to the circumstances surrounding that,” said MacKenzie. “We’ll review that material when it’s provided.”
He said he couldn’t comment specifically on a matter that’s currently before the court in reference to increasing the charges against Marchand and Metcalfe.
“Speaking generally, if an assault victim later dies and evidence can establish that it was the assault that caused the death, there’s certainly the potential that charges could be increased to some form of culpable homicide charge, such as a manslaughter or a murder charge, but that’s something we obviously aren’t going to know until we receive the additional material from police and are able to look at the specific evidence that’s available,” said MacKenzie.
Marchand and Metcalfe were arrested after the fight took place on the corner of 100th Avenue and 100th Street at 2:43 a.m. on July 22, according to the RCMP. Police responded to a call and they found one man unconscious and another with a facial injury. Police determined a “verbal argument” escalated into a fight between a group of four men and the two victims.
One of the men had given first aid to the victims, while the others had left before police arrived. RCMP said they believed alcohol was a “contributing factor.”
Both Ball and the other victim were transported to the Fort St. John hospital by ambulance and subsequently transferred to Edmonton.
It has also been reported that Ball’s family would like to see charges increased in the wake of his recent passing.
“The investigation is ongoing,” said Moskaluk, adding that the decision lies with the Crown counsel.
“It’s not really appropriate or possible for us to really comment or speculate as to what further charges there might be.”
Ball had lived in Fort St. John since Dec. 2011, and his funeral is scheduled for Aug. 11, according to his obituary.
Metcalfe and Marchand are scheduled to appear in Fort St. John court on Aug. 29.