Trial of Degrassi actor begins

Trial of Degrassi actor begins

The jury was told the TV star ‘sucker punched’ the victim, who later died.

TORONTO — A man who starred on the TV show Degrassi Junior High was in court yesterday where a jury heard he “sucker punched” a man on a city sidewalk then “stomped” on his head as he lay unconscious. Tyson Talbot, 32, has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge arising from the Nov. 29, 2002, death of Christopher Shelton.

Shelton had “no chance to defend himself, no chance to avoid the blow,” prosecutor John Scutt told court during opening statements yesterday.

Darryl Sharpe testified he and Shelton went out with a friend for drinks at two Toronto bars before going to a restaurant. As they got out of a cab, they encountered Talbot with two females.

Scutt said words were exchanged between the two groups.

Sharpe testified he couldn’t hear what was said. The two groups then went inside and sat on opposite sides of the restaurant.

As they left, Sharpe said he was behind them and saw the two groups talking to each other outside from a distance, but didn’t hear them. Suddenly, Talbot punched Shelton in the face, he said.

“It didn’t look like he (Shelton) was ready for it. His hands were down by his side,” said Sharpe, calling it a “sucker punch” and a “shot.” He said Shelton fell “straight back” with his arms at his side and his head hit the ground.

“His head whiplashed off the pavement. It made a loud thud noise,” he said, adding Shelton did not regain consciousness.

Talbot continued to be aggressive and as Shelton lay “motionless,” Talbot gave a “football” kick to his head, said the prosecutor.

“It was a stomp. He just came up and stomped on his head,” said Sharpe. “. . . Like trying to break something.”

Sharpe testified he put himself over Shelton to protect him. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Shelton suffered a skull fracture and bleeding and swelling resulted in his death, said Scutt.

Talbot played the role of Billy Martin on the Kids of Degrassi Street and later took on the character of Jason Cox as the TV series became Degrassi Junior High.

In its prime, Degrassi was the highest-rated show in Canada and syndicated in more than 70 countries, including the United States and Australia. In 1991, the Degrassi two-hour finale brought the CBC its highest rating to date.

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