John Reszetnik, the man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for pushing a complete stranger in front of a TTC subway train in 2018 in a “brutal and cowardly” act should spend life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years, Crown Attorney Sean Doyle told a judge Tuesday.
On the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing, in front of Justice John McMahon, Doyle told the judge that 55-year-old Reszetnik’s actions were not impulsive on the morning of June 18, 2018 when he pushed Yosuke Hayahara in front of an eastbound subway train at Bloor-Yonge subway station, but called it targeted.
Doyle said the main principles of sentencing that apply to this case should be denunciation and deterrence in order to convey society’s condemnation of acts of violence that occur on the TTC and endanger the public’s sense of safety.
Doyle compared the case to that of Herbert Cheong who was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years after he also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for pushing a 23-year-old woman in front of a subway train in September 1997.
“Mr. Hayahara was 73 years of age, weighed 138 pounds and stood five-foot-nine-inches tall,” Doyle told the court.
“Mr Reszetnik was 53 years of age, and noticeably heavier than Mr. Hayahara. In addition to these vulnerabilities, Mr. Hayahara was forcibly pushed from behind, while standing in a particularly vulnerable position — steps away from the edge of the platform as a subway entered the station,” Doyle said.
Two victim impact statements were read out. One written by Hayahara’s family, who called him Yoshi, and one from the Toronto Transit Commission that wrote a community impact statement.
“A complete stranger abruptly took the life of our dear loved one,” the family wrote. “We are saddened by the senseless nature of this crime, committed in a public setting.”
“There was no opportunity to say ‘good-bye’. Words cannot truly convey the extent of loss we feel on a daily basis.”
In the TTC community impact statement written by court advocate Ken Tedford, he said the huge impact the murder of Hayahara had on those who witnessed the attack and the crew of the subway train was traumatic and stressful.
The subway station was also shut down for hours as police investigated the murder. Tedford pointed out that “traumatic incidents threaten the reputation” of the TTC.
Court also heard that Reszetnik who has been in custody since his arrest in 2018 refused to take part in a mental health assessment ordered by Justice McMahon.
“Mr Reszetnik did not want to participate in Dr. Ali’s report … that’s the offender’s right,” said McMahon while asking counsel where they should go from here.
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Doyle responded that while there is some evidence Reszetnik has mental health challenges, it is limited.
“The fitness of Dr. Ali, dated December 29, 2020, contained some particulars but its value is attenuated given there was limited information available to Dr. Ali and it was based on Mr. Reszetnik’s self-report and presentation,” said Doyle who pointed out they don’t lessen his moral blameworthiness. “We can do little more than speculate about the impact of that illness, if any, upon his offending conduct.”
Justice McMahon said that unlike the Cheong case from 1997, Hayahara is a first time offender who left the subway station after the murder but later came back and took responsibility for his actions.
The defence will present it’s submissions on sentencing next week.
Reszetnik who appeared via video from the Toronto South Detention Centre, and said nothing during Tuesday’s hearing, will have an opportunity to address Hayahara’s family at that time.
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