Vincent James Steele, 25, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder of Neema Barati three years ago.
Justice Felix Cacchione handed down the sentence in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday.
Steele was arrested on Mar. 31, 2013, on Seaforth Street in Halifax. He was drunk and high at the time.
Police had previously arrived to break up a fight between Steele and Barati, who were roommates. The fight had been over the quality of cocaine that Steele had purchased for the two of them earlier that day.
Following the fight, Barati went downstairs and fell asleep. In a rage, Steele went to the kitchen and got a knife. His girlfriend tried to stop him, but Steele broke into Barati’s room and stabbed him six times in the back.
Barati died within minutes. He was 20 years old.
Steele did not flee as the police arrived on the scene for a second time. He cooperated fully with authorities.
Words from mother of victim
Both the victim’s mother, Penny Stone, and great-aunt, Michelle Edwards, read victim impact statements in court on Thursday.
Stone said her life will never be the same.
“My entire world was tossed upside down on March 31,” she told the court. “I will never get over it or get through it. It will never get easier.”
Before hearing his sentence, Steele was given the opportunity to speak.
“I know I can never take this back; I’m sorry for the pain I caused you,” said Steele, specifically addressing Stone. He also apologized, remembering her son as an ambitious young man.
During the sentencing, Cacchione said Steele had shown remorse for his actions and considered Steele a good candidate for rehabilitation.
Cacchione also noted that it was a tragedy for both the families of the deceased and the accused.
“If you keep drinking and doing drugs, you’ll be in (jail) forever,” said Cacchione, looking directly at Steele. “I am of the view that had it not been for these factors, this wouldn’t have occurred. This is a tragedy for all.”
Steele is eligible for parole after serving 13 years in prison. He is prohibited from ever owning firearms.
Crown and defence statements
Eligibility for parole is determined by a number of factors: the nature of the offender, the nature of the offence, any extenuating circumstances and the jury’s recommendation.
Crown attorney Glenn Hubbard explained that Steele’s character changed drastically over a short period of time. Hubbard highlighted Steele’s history of substance abuse, which started in junior high.
However, leading up to the murder, Hubbard said Steele had found some stability. He was working at a call centre and had been in a relationship for a year. Co-workers, in their character statements, described Steele as “a conscientious worker” and “a loyal friend.”
“There’s a Jekyll and Hyde quality to his character,” said Hubbard.
Defence attorney Peter Planetta noted that Steele has already taken steps to better himself, having completed his GED and taken several colleges credits at NSCC.