Degrassi kid charged in murder
‘Extremely vicious attack’ near real Degrassi Street
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
TORONTO – The man arrested in the beating death of a man outside a Toronto restaurant is a former child actor from the television series The Kids of Degrassi Street and Degrassi Junior High.
Tyson Stewart Talbot, now 30, was arraigned for second-degree murder yesterday and was remanded to custody.
Police arrested him shortly after Christopher Shelton, 23, was beaten and kicked in the head as he lay helpless outside a Chinese restaurant in Toronto’s east end, near the real Degrassi Street.
The co-creator of the Degrassi shows, Linda Schuyler, said yesterday she was “sickened” by the arrest. “It’s shocking and I know it’s just a charge at this point, but even the charge is enough to send shivers down my spine.”
She said she cast Talbot in The Kids of Degrassi Street as Billy Martin, the neighbourhood athlete, and then as Jason Cox in Degrassi Junior High in the early 1980s.
Shelton, a bartender who had modelled in New York and Milan, was attacked after getting into an argument with a man accompanied by two women.
As Shelton was leaving the restaurant, at about 3:30 Friday morning, he was punched in the head and knocked unconscious.
Witnesses say his attacker began to walk away, but returned to kick his victim in the head one last time before fleeing the scene in a taxi.
Shelton died in hospital from a blunt-force head injury, according to the post-mortem examination conducted on Sunday.
David Shelton, the young victim’s father, called the beating “an extremely vicious attack on a good boy.”
His son hoped to study law at the University of Toronto and had recently exchanged promise rings with his girlfriend. Tiffany Merritt has said the couple talked about getting married.
Schuyler remembered Talbot as a child who responded to an open casting call for the first of the many DeGrassi series. “He was personable, funny, warm,” Schuyler said. “He just had so much potential.”
She described him as an “excessively cute” boy during his audition for the show 20 years ago.
“He had that little sparkle in his eye,” she said. “He was just a really nice kid. He had a tendency to be a little lazy at times and we’d have to push him, but he was just a normal kid.”
In 1986, Talbot was cast as Jason Cox in Degrassi Junior High, a follow-up series to The Kids of Degrassi Street. He quit after filming only a few episodes of the first season.
“It was his own doing,” said Schuyler, “much to his mother’s disappointment.”
She said that as Talbot grew into a teenager, it was obvious that he was becoming a volatile youth. When he left Degrassi Junior High, he gave up a stable environment which had promoted a healthy work ethic, she said.
“He had the tendency to be swayed by the wrong gang and you’d think to yourself, ‘If only we could get him through the next two or three years of teenagehood, he’ll be fine.’ ”
Schuyler said has not been in contact with Talbot since he left Degrassi Junior High more than 15 years ago.
Since then, Talbot has compiled an extensive police record, including convictions for robbery, theft, assault, possession of stolen property and escaping custody.
In 1990, he was sentenced to a year in prison after attacking two Malvern Collegiate teachers and the student council president at a school fishing derby.