A 28-year-old man from Renews has been sentenced to 5½ years behind bars for killing his stepfather just before Christmas two years ago.
Brandon Noftall pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year, a downgrade from his initial second-degree murder charge.
"No sentence can bring Robert Noftall back to his family or end their grief," said N.L. Supreme Court Justice Kate O'Brien, as she sentenced Noftall on Thursday afternoon.
His family cried quietly as O'Brien read her decision, while Noftall looked down, brow furrowed, and rocked back and forth in the prisoner's dock.
Noftall broke down in court last month as he described to the judge how much he loved his stepfather, who had raised him since Noftall was three.
He was the "closest thing to a father I've ever known," Noftall said at the time.
An altercation at the family home on Dec. 23, 2020, led to Noftall stabbing his stepfather four times. Noftall argued he had feared for his life, but when he realized the extent of Robert's injuries, Noftall attempted to save him.
Lawyers argued last month for a prison sentence between four and eight years, less time already served.
O'Brien noted Thursday that Noftall started the chain of events that night and escalated the conflict by being the first to draw a weapon.
"Introducing a knife to a fist fight is inherently very dangerous," she said.
Robert Noftall's sister and nieces sobbed and held each other outside the courtroom after the verdict. Questioning the Brandon's remorse, they told reporters he should have received a longer sentence.
But O'Brien pointed to a complicated matrix of factors that led to his sentence, which was lower than what prosecutors had asked for.
She described a difficult upbringing marked by exposure to drug addiction, hunger, poverty and violence between his mother and stepfather. Noftall first witnessed Robert shooting up at age 10, she said, and was doing drugs himself by age 13.
He frequently went without food in a household where money was spent on substances, and often found himself either intervening in fights between his parents or under the care of his grandparents.
"Mr Noftall was raised in a home with drug use, violence and poverty," O'Brien said.
"You have to be strong and determined to overcome the damaging effects of such a childhood."
With time served, Noftall will spend just under three years in prison.