Devontay Hackett ineligible for parole for 12 years

The 21-year-old man convicted of second-degree murder in the 2014 prom night stabbing of 18-year-old Brandon Volpi will serve 12 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole, a Superior Court judge ruled Monday.

At the sentencing hearing last week, Devontay Hackett — automatically sentenced to life in prison — apologized to Volpi's family. All that was left for the judge to decide was how long Hackett would be ineligible for parole.

Volpi died after an early-morning fight with Hackett outside Les Suites Hotel in downtown Ottawa following an after-prom party in June 2014. The jury heard Volpi was stabbed multiple times but it was a knife wound to the heart that killed him.

Hackett turned to Volpi's father at his sentencing hearing Thursday and said, "I am genuinely sorry for the loss and emotional suffering this ordeal has caused the Volpi family."

"It has been devastating to myself as well," he said. "Mr. and Mrs. Volpi, I am truly sorry for your loss."

Emotions flared during the hearing as one woman jumped up while a Crown prosecutor was speaking and shouted, "He [Hackett] is going to take the fall for everybody. How fair is that?"

During the trial, Hackett's defence team pointed out police never found the murder weapon, and argued the Crown's case wasn't strong enough to prove Hackett had wielded it that morning.

The Crown argued that cellphone video of the fight outside the hotel clearly showed Hackett killed Volpi by stabbing him in the chest and slashing him in the throat.

The Crown claimed Volpi had been trying to intervene in a dispute over a cellphone. Court heard he suffered a 17-centimetre-long stab wound to the neck and 10-centimetre-deep stab wound through his rib cage and into his heart.

'I lost my only son'

Volpi's father, Danny Volpi, sat quietly and showed no emotion as others cried during Hackett's apology. 

In Volpi's victim impact statement, he said his son had his whole life ahead of him.

"I lost a part of me. I lost my only son," Volpi said. "He was only 18."

Outside court, he said he has to live with the loss of his son for the rest of his life. When asked about Hackett's courtroom apology he said, "It was great on his part but he should have thought of that two years ago."

Crown wanted 12-13 years of parole ineligibility

The jury of eight men and four women took two days to reach their guilty verdict in February, following a trial that lasted about a month.

Second-degree murder convictions carry an automatic life sentence. After the verdict was delivered, Justice Charles Hackland asked jurors to go back and consider how long Hackett should be deemed ineligible for parole.

Nine of the jurors recommended Hackett be ineligible for parole for 10 years, the minimum length for a second-degree murder conviction. Three declined to offer any recommendation.

In court Thursday, the Crown asked that Hackett be ineligible for parole for 12 to 13 years. The defence asked for 10 years. 

At the outset of the trial, the judge denied a request to stay the murder charges against Hackett because the judicial process had taken longer than deadlines set out in a recent Supreme Court ruling.