A 21-year-old man convicted in the 2014 prom-night killing of Brandon Volpi apologized to the victim's family on Thursday before a Superior Court judge told a packed Ottawa courtroom he will decide the young man's fate next week.
Volpi died after an early-morning fight with Devontay 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, who was found guilty of second-degree murder last month, 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 argued police never found the murder weapon and that the Crown's case wasn't strong enough to show he wielded it that morning.
The Crown argued that cellphone video of the fight outside the hotel clearly showed Hackett, now 21, 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': Victim's father
Volpi's father, Danny Volpi, sat quietly without emotion as others cried while Hackett read out his 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 of 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."
Judge to decide how long Hackett will be ineligible for parole
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.
Hackland will decide on the sentence Monday.
At the outset of the trial, 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, was denied.