Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that two of the five accused, Harold Russell and Aaron Ryan, appeared in court via video earlier than their originally scheduled time of 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8.
Five individuals charged with first-degree murder appeared in Belleville’s Ontario Court of Justice on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.
The five suspects are charged in the death of a 17-year-old boy from Quinte West. Kiean Stoddard was located deceased at the Park Motel on Dundas Street East in Trenton on Jan. 7.
Steven Courneyea, a 26-year-old man from Belleville, appeared by video from Central East Detention Centre in Lindsay, where he is incarcerated. A white male with cropped light brown hair and a closely cropped chin beard, he wore the orange coveralls customary of men in provincial custody. His face was puffy around the eyes.
It was established through Mike Pretsell of Pretsell Davies Thompson Benton LLP, a Belleville lawyer who was present in the courtroom, that Courneyea’s family had been in touch with his firm attempting to find counsel. The Justice of the Peace scheduled a return date later in the month for Courneyea to find legal representation.
“The wife has been trying to get a hold of him or something, I guess,” responded Courneyea.
The Justice of the Peace told Courneyea he should call legal aid in the meantime, to which Cournyea responded, “Is there any way she could do it for me? Because I’m not that smart with that type of stuff.”
The justice of the peace advised Courneyea that the officer attending him would be able to give him the 1-800 number to “at least get started” and legal counsel would help him from there.
The next of the co-accused to appear was Morgan Belyea, 22, of Belleville. Wearing a dark green prison-issue sweatshirt, Belyea is a white female with long brown hair. She appeared pale and nervous. She appeared from the Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee, where she is being held.
An articling student appeared on behalf of Belyea’s counsel, Alison Craig of Posner Craig Stein LLP in Toronto. She requested a return at a later date this month, which was granted.
Finally, Khadijah Courneyea, 29, from Quinte West, appeared from Quinte DC via video. It is unclear at this time if the two Courneyeas are related. She was also wearing a dark green sweatshirt typical of female inmates in Ontario. Her hair is long and blond. She appeared pale and downcast.
Mike Pretsell explained that he had been contacted by Courneyea and was willing to act on her behalf unless some conflict arose once the Crown attorney provided a list of witnesses. He too asked for a return at a later date so he could examine the materials. It was granted.
Aside from the above three accused, Harold Russell, 43, and Aaron Ryan, 27, both from Quinte West, were slated to appear at 10 a.m. according to the docket, but they did not appear at that time. Belleville’s Ontario Court of Justice confirmed with Quinteist on Friday that both Ryan and Russell did appear via video before Justice of the Peace J.P. Peltzer on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. The docket listing their appearance indicated that they were to appear at 10 a.m. but both individuals appeared earlier in the morning. Both were ordered to reappear again later this month.
Quinte West OPP are seeking doorbell or dashcam video from Jan. 3, between 5 pm and 11:30 pm in the area of 276 Dundas Street East. Video can be uploaded at: https://bit.ly/qw_dundas_st_e or call 1-888-310-1122.
Quinteist will be following this case as it proceeds through the courts and will bring you updates.