Man accused in death of Cape Breton teen picks trial by judge and jury

Nearly four months after 17-year-old Joneil Hanna was struck and killed on a Cape Breton highway, the driver of the vehicle has elected to be tried by a judge and jury on a charge of obstruction. 

Hanna's family feels justice hasn't been served and is looking for an independent investigation.

On Wednesday, about a dozen supporters showed up outside the Sydney courthouse holding signs with messages of support for the family of Hanna.

“It's been hard, very hard,” said Earlene Hanna, Joneil’s grandmother. “He was my buddy.” 

Inside the courthouse, Hayden Laffin, the 21-year-old charged with obstruction of justice in connection with the teen’s death, didn't enter a plea, but did elect to be tried by a judge and jury.

“It kind of makes me mad,” said Jenn Hanna, Joneil’s mother.“I just wanted to have things done and over with instead of waiting so long.”

Hanna died in June of this year while walking home after attending an outdoor graduation party. Hanna was struck and killed by a car.

Laffin was the driver of the vehicle and according to witnesses also attended the party, where many people had been consuming alcohol.

Hanna's mother, says police should've given Laffin the breathalyzer. But police say they had no grounds to do so.

The family is now looking for an outside investigation to be conducted.

“Making sure we can get a judge and jury from out of Cape Breton,” said Jenn Hanna. “I just feel like the justice system here isn't doing its job.”

Laffin's lawyer David Iannetti offered no comment today. For Joneil's family, they say coming here to the court house for each appearance keeps getting harder.

“It's hard emotionally for the whole family, but we get through it as a family,” said Earlene Hanna. “It's the only thing we can do, and pray that it does come to an end, so we can have our closure.”

The two homeowners who hosted the grad party have been charged under the liquor control act for allowing drunkenness on their property. They'll appear in court on Oct. 16th.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.