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Family of assault victim pushing for "highest possible" charges

In the wake of the death of Fort St. John assault victim Chris Ball, his family in Mission, B.C. says they're hoping for the highest possible charges for his assailants. 39-year-old Ball, a Calgary resident, was taken off of life support last Thursday while in the ICU of the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton.

Ball suffered extreme brain damage when he was beaten on the corner of 100th and 100th at 2:43 a.m. on Sunday, July 22.

"We're very shocked," says Ball's brother-in-law Andrew Upper. "It seems like a very senseless, meaningless, aggravated attack.

William Ted Metcalfe of Kelowna and Joel Christopher Marchand of Prince George were arrested and charged with one count each of assault causing bodily harm and one count each of aggravated assault. Now that Ball has succumbed to his injuries, those charges may change.

"We're going to push for the strongest possible charges based on the circumstances," says Upper. "We feel that it should be maybe murder two, if appropriate."

RCMP are still investigating the incident, and still gathering evidence, so no new recommendation has been made for upping the charges yet. Neil MacKenzie, Communications Counsel for the Criminal Justice Branch, explains that while every case is different, generally if the victim of an assault later dies as a cause of the assault, the charges may turn to murder or manslaughter.

"The usual process would be for the police to forward additional evidence to Crown Counsel in relation to the cause of the person’s death," he explains in an email. "Crown Counsel would then assess that evidence and decide whether it met our charge assessment standard for the approval of a more serious charge, and if so which charge is appropriate."

However, there is no time frame for this to happen, as it depends on how long the RCMP investigation takes, as well as the time it takes the Crown to review the additional evidence. Upper says the family is waiting to see what happens, but is prepared to seek legal counsel if necessary.

"We're being as patient as we can," he says. "That being said, we're not afraid to step it up and put some pressure on people when we feel we need to."

A funeral is planned in the southeast Calgary community of Midnapore for 2:00 p.m. this Saturday.