A mother spoke through tears as she described the moment she learned her son had been shot Tuesday during the sentencing hearing of Kaz Henry Cox, the man convicted of the first-degree murder of Triston Reece.
"When my son was murdered, my whole world was ripped from underneath me. It was like someone put their hand in my chest, pulled out my heart and tore it up into pieces," said Dale Adams, mother of 19-year-old Reece, who was killed in a Halifax shooting in July 2019. She added that she's faced anxiety and sleep issues since the shooting.
"I would take his place in a minute if I could."
Cox, 43, was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury earlier this month. On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Jamie Campbell gave him a life sentence with no option for parole for 25 years. That means Cox can apply for parole in 2044.
"There is no satisfaction that comes from the imposition of that sentence. It cannot set things right. It cannot make the crooked straight again. It cannot restore anything to where it should be, but nevertheless, it must be done," Campbell said.
Cox declined to make a statement during the hearing.
Death does not define him
"We've been waiting a very long time for justice, for the horrific death of my son," Adams said. "I will not allow what happened to my son is the only thing that defines him or me. I raised him with unconditional love. You knew that no matter what he did in life, I would always love him. And nothing will ever change that for me."
Reece was found suffering from gunshot wounds on Scot Street in Halifax on July 26, 2019, and he died at hospital. Cox was charged with first-degree murder in November 2019.
The Crown argued that evidence from cell phone data, footage from a bus camera and eye-witnesses proved that Cox drove up to Reece, who was in a parked car on Scot Street, and shot him before driving to East Chester, N.S., where he travelled down a rural road, parked his car and burned it.
Father motivated by revenge, Crown argued
During his closing arguments earlier this month, Crown prosecutor Rick Woodburn said Cox killed Reece in an act of revenge after finding out the 19-year-old was "pimping out" his daughter.
There was evidence Cox was aware his daughter was working in the sex trade and had a relationship with the victim, Woodburn said, and that Cox planned in advance to shoot and kill Reece.
Cox, however, denied having knowledge of a relationship of any kind between his daughter and Reece and said he had not killed Reece. He said he only heard about it when police interviewed him after the shooting.
"My understanding after that interview was that it wasn't a good (relationship)," Cox said during his testimony. "For me, even calling it a relationship is difficult," he added, saying it was during the interview he learned his daughter had been sexually assaulted and forced to do sex work in hotels.
In her closing arguments, defence lawyer Alexandra Mamo had told the jury that the Crown failed to prove Cox's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cox had previously been charged with several offences, including possession of a firearm without a licence, possession of a firearm while prohibited and transporting a firearm in a careless manner in 2019, and several other offences that date back to the 1990s.
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