THUNDER BAY -- Shirley Keesic says her brother Murray, if alive today, would forgive the man now convicted of killing him.
"I know Murray would would say, 'Oh, I forgive you; I forgive you. C'mon let's go get a beer,'" she said outside the Thunder Bay Courthouse Wednesday afternoon after the man convicted of manslaughter in her brother Murray Keesic's death was sentenced.
Jeffrey Charles Tomagatick, 30, was found guilty of manslaughter and robbery of Murray Keesic, 50, Wednesday after entering guilty pleas on both counts.
Tomagatick was charged with second-degree murder and robbery after assaulting the victim behind a North Syndicate Avenue residence on Sept. 13, 2012.
He was sentenced to seven-years incarceration to be served in a penitentiary minus the 15 months of time he’s already served, which was given on a 1.5 credit for his 10 months served since his pre-trial last September.
In the agreed statement of facts, a witness said she was having drinks with Keesic in her niece's backyard when Tomagatick and another female came into the yard. Keesic and Tomagatick knew each other.
Keesic pulled out some money, talking about renting a hotel room, and that's when Tomagatick attacked Keesic, choking and kicking him.
The accused then took money out of Keesic's pocket and fled.
Emergency response teams responded to a 911 call around 12:30 p.m. and found Keesic slumped over and groaning.
On the way to the hospital, Keesic lost all vital signs. He was resuscitated at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, but never regained consciousness.
He died around 4 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2012.
The cause of death was an anoxic brain injury from an airway blockage caused by internal bleeding in the neck area.
The doctor who performed the autopsy says the injury could have been caused by a single blow.
Keesic also had six broken ribs and a fractured hyoid bone.
Police found Tomagatick around 2:45 p.m. in the Oddfellows building on May Street, where he was hiding in a closet in a friend's room; police found 13 $20-bills on him that had been taken from Keesic.
Shirley Keesic, her mother and two sisters submitted victim impact statements all describing the victim as a generous, kind man with a good sense of humour.
Shirley Keesic read her statement to Tomagatick and the court saying Murray's passing leaves a void in her heart and she hopes he can change his ways.
"I forgive you," she said.
Keesic's mother Maggie noted in her statement, ready by Crown attorney Deb Kinsella, that her son was a generous man and had Tomagatick asked, Keesic would have given him money.
Tomagatick apologized to Keesic's family in the courtroom Wednesday, saying he has felt agonizing guilt for what he has caused the family.
He said it wasn't easy to hear what he did to Keesic, his friend, and he's sorry for the pain and suffering he has caused.
"Today I stand here, I would like to say how sorry I am," he said, adding he will also be seeking treatment for his substance abuse issues so he can become a better person.
In defence lawyer George Joseph's sentencing submissions, he outlined his client's troubled past that included an absentee father, abuse in the foster care system and a mother that abandoned Tomagatick.
He then turned to drugs and alcohol so he could feel "numb" and has attempted suicide multiple times throughout his life.
Joseph said that cases like this are always difficult because there's a sense of loss that's palpable in the courtroom.
"You heard the victim's sister speak and it was heartbreaking to hear, but equally heartbreaking is my client's upbringing," he said after the sentence was given Wednesday.
"It's always a sad set of circumstances - one life lost, another one also lost in some respects," he said.
Joseph said he felt Pierce's sentence was fair and there was no question his client would get a penitentiary sentence.
"I know Mr. Tomagatick was wanting to deal with this a long time ago," Joseph said.
"He's emotionally relieved to have this resolved and now he's looking forward to starting his new life and looking forward to getting the help he needs."