Pembroke -- A Bonnechere Valley Township man who pled guilty to manslaughter for the July 9, 2021 death of a 67-year-old man at the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation will be sentenced on October 4.
Zachary Marquardt was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ronnie Graham but the charge was subsequently reduced to second-degree murder. He pled guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter before Justice Jeffery Richardson in the Ontario Court of Justice in August.
A native of British Columbia who lived most recently in Eganville and Pikwakanagan, Mr. Graham was found dead outside a residence that had been badly damaged by fire several days previously.
At the time his body was discovered in the early morning hours of July 9, a 27-year-old man was found nearby with non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to the Pembroke Regional Hospital by ambulance.
That individual was later identified as Mr. Marquardt and he was charged. He remained in custody at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre awaiting his trial.
During a Pre-Sentencing Hearing, the court heard two Victim Impact Statements read by family members of the deceased.
Dustin “Dusty” Commanda had trouble holding back tears as he read his statement. He highlighted the positive aspects of Mr. Graham. He said although his stepfather had struggles in his lifetime, he did not deserve that fate.
A second family member, nephew James Cousineau, submitted a video statement in which he said he and other family members had forgiven the accused for his actions.
“We have found forgiveness in our hearts because that is what Ronnie would have wanted us to do,” he said in his statement.
Mr. Marquardt is expected to appear in person for his October 4 hearing scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader