Brandon Noftall admits to killing his own stepfather by mistake, pleads guilty to manslaughter

·3 min read
Brandon Noftall held back tears in Supreme Court on Thursday morning as he pleaded guilty to accidentally killing his stepfather, Robert Noftall. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Brandon Noftall held back tears in Supreme Court on Thursday morning as he pleaded guilty to accidentally killing his stepfather, Robert Noftall. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

A domestic disturbance that turned lethal days before Christmas in rural Newfoundland left a father dead and his son holding back tears in court Thursday as he admitted to killing him.

Brandon Noftall stabbed his stepfather Robert Noftall four times in the early morning of Dec. 18, 2020, in the family's rental home in Renews.

One of those stab wounds pierced Robert Noftall's heart; another, his lung. Those were the fatal blows, according to a statement of facts read out in Supreme Court in St. John's. Noftall was originally charged with second-degree murder, but prosecutors instead accepted a guilty plea to a manslaughter charge.

Brandon Noftall sat alone in the dock, his family filling the benches behind him, some quietly sobbing as the Crown lawyer described the events leading up to Robert's death.

On Dec. 17, 2020, Brandon Noftall asked his mother, Melinda Noftall, to drive him to St. John's to sell a gaming system for Christmas present money.

Brandon had apparently misplaced his bank card, and his mother agreed to accept an e-transfer from the buyer and give her son in cash.

That night, his mother said she didn't have the money and, when Brandon got angry, barricaded herself in her bedroom. Brandon argued with her outside the door, then pushed his way inside and grabbed her purse.

Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

Melinda hit Brandon, who struck her in return, sparking a skirmish. Brandon put his mother in a headlock and threw her to the ground, enraging Robert.

Robert followed Brandon to his bedroom, where the two wrestled. Brandon says Robert cornered him, and pulled out his pocket knife in response, slashing the air as a threat. He claims Robert had his own knife, and began making sudden movements. Police were unable to find a pocket knife belonging to Robert during their investigation, however.

Brandon then stabbed his stepfather and "booked it" out of the house, hiding underneath a boat in fear of his life.

Melinda didn't see the stabbing, according to the statement of facts, and couldn't confirm her son's account.

Brandon later went back to the house, and saw Melinda holding a dish towel to Robert's torso, telling her partner she loved him.

At that point, Robert was struggling to breathe.

"I didn't mean to," Brandon told them, overcome with regret.

Paramedics declined to provide care

When paramedics arrived, Brandon told them he had stabbed Robert.

They refused to treat him, citing a fear for their safety.

Brandon and Melinda loaded Robert into their truck and sped toward St. John's. An RCMP officer pulled them over, and Brandon leapt from the passenger seat with his hands in the air. He was arrested.

By the time the officer looked into the truck, Robert had died.

Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

In addition to the fatal stab wounds to his heart and lungs, according to a doctor consulted by prosecutors, Robert also sustained a small cut to his liver and a wound to his thigh.

A remorseful Brandon Noftall told the Crown he didn't mean to kill his stepfather that night, or cause him injuries that would put him at risk of death.

Robert had been his stepfather since Brandon was three years old.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9. He has also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching court orders to keep the peace.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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