Crown and defence at odds over sentence for Paul Connolly in Miller manslaughter

·4 min read
Paul Connolly, who has pleaded guilty in the manslaughter death of Steven Miller, speaks with lawyer Mark Gruchy on Tuesday in St. John's during a sentencing hearing.  (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Paul Connolly, who has pleaded guilty in the manslaughter death of Steven Miller, speaks with lawyer Mark Gruchy on Tuesday in St. John's during a sentencing hearing. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Paul Connolly, who has pleaded guilty in the manslaughter death of Steven Miller, speaks with lawyer Mark Gruchy on Tuesday in St. John's during a sentencing hearing.
Paul Connolly, who has pleaded guilty in the manslaughter death of Steven Miller, speaks with lawyer Mark Gruchy on Tuesday in St. John's during a sentencing hearing. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

Paul Connolly will be sentenced Wednesday for manslaughter in the death of Steven Miller, nearly five years after people in a sleepy Kelligrews subdivision awoke to find Miller's body lying in a driveway.

Connolly, who has been in custody for almost five years, appeared Tuesday in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court for a sentencing hearing that showed prosecutors and the defence are at odds over just how much more time he should spend in prison.

Connolly, along with Chesley Lucas and Calvin Kenny, killed Miller during a violent home invasion and robbery on July 30, 2016.

Kenny and Lucas also set Miller's home on fire, and abducted Miller and left him for dead in the Bayview Heights subdivision in Conception Bay South. The trio intended to steal drugs from Miller.

In July 2017, Chelsey Lucas and Calvin Kenny pleaded guilty to manslaughter for Miller's death, as well as to charges of arson, robbery and forcible confinement. Kyle Morgan pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact.

Kenny and Lucas were sentenced to 12½ years in prison, and both men appealed the sentence.

Kenny was killed in a New Brunswick prison. Lucas's appeal was eventually rejected.

Connolly had been waiting for the outcome of Lucas's appeal before his own sentencing. Justice Donald Burrage's decision will bring to an end a high-profile criminal saga that has played out before the courts for years.

Connolly was originally charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, robbery and forcible confinement in 2018.

Connolly apologizes to court

In court Tuesday, he apologized for the hurt and pain he's caused.

He said the killing "shook him" and that it has changed him. Connolly told Burrage he hopes to get a better handle on himself as life goes on.

Connolly, seen here sitting in the dock at Supreme Court in St. John's on Tuesday, will learn Wednesday how much longer his sentence for manslaughter will be.
Connolly, seen here sitting in the dock at Supreme Court in St. John's on Tuesday, will learn Wednesday how much longer his sentence for manslaughter will be. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

In a 2017 victim impact statement that Crown prosecutor Tannis King read aloud in court Tuesday, Miller's father, Lorne, wrote that he was living a nightmare, stayed in bed much of the time, and feared he'd never return to work. He and Steven Miller worked together.

His mother Carol wrote she had lost a sense of safety, as well as her passion for crafting and gardening. She wrote she awakes during the night around the time of the attack, thinking about how her son died.

"My Steven was my everything," she wrote.

Prosecutor Richard Deveau told Burrage he wants to see Connolly given a sentence between 10½ to 11½ years for his role in Miller's death.

He told the court Connolly has not expressed remorse for the killing, and described Connolly as a "prolific offender with a significant record," citing Connolly's 172 convictions in the past 26 years.

Miller, 25, was abducted from his home in the Seal Cove area of Conception Bay South in 2016.
Miller, 25, was abducted from his home in the Seal Cove area of Conception Bay South in 2016. (CBC/Facebook)

Deveau says his lengthy record — with offences escalating in severity over the years — will affect Connolly's prospect of rehabilitation.

But Connolly's lawyer, Mark Gruchy, argued his client should receive a sentence between 9½ and 10 years.

Gruchy argued Connolly is a survivor of sexual violence from his youth, which has affected his life trajectory.

He also said Connolloy should serve less time since he called 911 while Lucas and Kenny were setting fire to Miller's house. However the prosecutor disagreed, saying he was calling help for himself.

"Hope never dies," Gruchy told the court, saying he believes Connolly can be rehabilitated. He told the court Connolly almost died from stab wounds during the attack, lost half a kidney and now has a four-year-old daughter.

Connolly has been in custody for 1,637 days, according to the prosecutor.

Burrage is expected to deliver his sentence at 10 a.m. NT. Wednesday.

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