N.S. man gets 7-year sentence for killing landlord during rent dispute

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Police and firefighters work near West Jeddore Road after human remains were found in 2020. (Robert Guertin/CBC - image credit)
Police and firefighters work near West Jeddore Road after human remains were found in 2020. (Robert Guertin/CBC - image credit)

A man from Head of Jeddore, N.S., has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge in the case of a drunken road rage incident in 2020 that left a man dead.

Dana Matthew Wolfe pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the February 2020 death of Jason Murphy. Justice John Bodurtha released his decision on the matter Wednesday.

In 2020, Wolfe and his common law partner, Kelly Stewart, were driving alongside Murphy while he was walking down the street and tried to convince him to get in the car with them. Murphy was renting out a room to the couple and had gotten in an argument with them over overdue rent.

Words were exchanged between Murphy and the couple and Wolfe, who was drunk at the time, veered toward Murphy to "psych" him out. But with the slippery road conditions and Wolfe's inebriated and angry state, he drove the car into Murphy instead, killing him. Murphy was 45 years old.

"This unintended action has had grave results for Wolfe and Stewart, and has caused unimaginable pain and heartache for Murphy's family," Bodurtha wrote.

Murphy's remains were found after police were given a tip on their location after the incident.

In May, Wolfe pleaded not guilty to second degree murder and guilty to the manslaughter charge. An agreed statement of facts reads that "while Wolfe did not intend to kill Murphy, his action of driving the car quickly and suddenly towards Murphy while intoxicated, angry, and in icy driving conditions, amounted to an unlawful act that resulted in Murphy's death."

Wolfe has past convictions for drugs and driving

In his decision, the justice said Wolfe had a "significant criminal record" including convictions for violence, weapons and driving offences and offences involving the use of alcohol and drugs, which were taken into consideration during the sentencing,

Bodurtha also wrote that, "Wolfe pled guilty to the offence before the court well before the related charge was to go to trial," sparing the courts the use of "valuable time and resources" and the witnesses having to relive the incident during their testimony.

"When Wolfe was interviewed by the police, he admitted many of the facts related to the current charge demonstrating an early acceptance of responsibility," he wrote. "These early admissions inform the court of Wolfe's prospects for rehabilitation."

Wolfe was sentenced to seven years in prison, minus time already served and a COVID remand credit, leaving a remaining sentence of just under three years.

He was also given ancillary orders for a mandatory DNA bank submission and a life-long prohibition on firearms. A non-communication order has been issued, as well, prohibiting Wolfe from contacting some of Murphy's family members during his sentence.

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