The image of her father lying lifeless in a hospital bed — his face mutilated and mangled from a vicious attack — will forever be engrained in Brittany Hammond’s mind.
“I’ll never forget it,” the 20-year-old said, crying as she spoke about her dad, Joey Whalen.
“To me, he was Superman. … He was my father and I looked up to him, and to see him lying there, (knowing) somebody just left him on the floor — it didn’t mean anything to anybody. It’s just sad. Nobody deserves that.”
Hammond was one of more than a dozen of Whalen’s family members who came to Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Friday for the sentencing hearing of Kenny Green, the man who killed Whalen.
Whalen died March 17, 2013, from blunt force trauma to the head as a result of Green’s vicious attack. It happened four days earlier at a notorious drug house on Tessier Place in the capital city’s downtown.
Green, 35, had been charged with second-degree murder, but on Tuesday, just as his trial was set to begin and the jury was ready to enter the courtroom, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Days after bearing the shock of that, Whalen’s family now has to deal with the fact that Whalen’s killer will get what they believe is a slap on the wrist.
On Friday, lawyers presented an agreed recommendation on sentencing for Green — six years less time served.
With a total of 578 days’ credit for pre-trial custody, it would leave four years and five months on his term.
In federal institutions, offenders can apply for parole after one-third of their sentences are served. It means Green could be out of jail in 17 1/2 months.
That didn’t sit well with Whalen’s family, who expressed outrage over the proposed sentence.
“My father lay there for four days and they’re standing there like Kenny’s the victim,” Hammond said. “He was a drug dealer and he beat somebody. Why? Because he thought he deserved it? No one deserves that.
“I hate Kenny Green and you know what? I wouldn’t even kill him that way.”
Hammond said the sentence Green will get will likely be far too short.
“I don’t think any sentence would’ve been good enough, but anything better than this sentence would’ve been better,” she said.
“He’s going to walk out of there in what? Two years? I’m going to pass him in the street (and say), ‘There goes the guy that killed my father.’”
Hammond then broke down in tears and was comforted by her cousin.
Her mother, Kelly Hammond — Whalen’s common-law wife for 22 years — had her victim impact statement presented in court Friday.
“Joey meant the world to me and his children,” she said. “He never let us forget how much he loved us. … He may have struggled from time to time with his drug addiction, but it did not affect his character or define who he was. This was only a small part of Joey.”
She said when Whalen took his last breath, “my world was shattered and life as I knew it ended that day. Nothing could have prepared me for that day as it was the worst day of my life.”
She said his children have suffered a great loss.
“They lost their father in a way that they struggle to understand, …” she said. “I feel we were cheated out of the years that we could have had to spend with Joey and I am distraught at the loss of the future together as a family.
“I feel that there will never be any closure for us and we will never have the justice that we were hoping for Joey.”
Whalen’s sister, Maryanne Whalen, said she still has nightmares thinking about her brother fighting for his life in hospital.
“But I am living that nightmare, and no words on paper can ever begin to describe the hurt and pain inside that tears me apart every day,” she said.
“We all want and need justice for our brother, but it does not right any wrong. It does not undo any atrocities. Death is permanent and forever.
“When Joey was taken so brutally from us then, it not only took my brother’s life, it also took a part of each and every one of us. Rest in peace, my brother.”
An agreed statement of facts presented in court on Tuesday revealed that Green had gone to 8 Tessier Pl. just before 10 a.m. on March 13, 2013. Whalen — who sold drugs for Green — showed up shortly afterwards.
Green told police that Whalen said he was “hurting” financially. Green said he saw a knife in Whalen’s waistband and thought Whalen was going to rip him off. He punched Whalen a number of times and left.
The man who lived in the house, Derek Tulk, had gone upstairs to get money for Green when the fight broke out.
Tulk said when he came down and saw Whalen bleeding on the floor, he went to look for his cellphone.
By the time he left the house and notified a neighbour to call police, 12 minutes had passed.
Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves said he and defence lawyer Randy Piercey opted for the plea bargain of manslaughter and the joint submission on sentencing because there were several issues with the case — no one witnessed the assault, the key witnesses were drug addicts, the 12-minute wait to get help was questionable, and the sneaker footprint at the scene did not match Green’s.
The sneakers that made the impression in blood at the scene were not found, nor was Green’s DNA found at the house.
Steeves said Green may have had a case for self-defence. He said had the case gone to a jury, the outcome likely would have been the same — a conviction on manslaughter.
“This wasn’t an easy way out for either side,” Steeves said of the plea bargain, and the agreed suggestion on sentencing. “It was a fair assessment (of the evidence).”
Piercey said if the case had gone to trial, Green would’ve had a 60 per cent chance of being convicted of manslaughter, a 20 per cent change of being acquitted and a 20 per cent chance of being found guilty of second-degree murder.
“Twenty per cent is huge,” Piercey said, adding that Green, with three children to go home to, “chose certainty over the small possibility (of being convicted of murder).”
But none of that mattered to Whalen’s family.
Outside court, Whalen’s father, Joseph Whalen, said Green deserves a harsher penalty.
“It’s not justice. He slaughtered my son like they slaughter a cow,” the 88-year-old said.
“He should get life (in prison) and throw away the key for what he done. I wouldn’t do that to a dog, what he done.”
And to make things worse for them, when Green was given the chance to speak in court, he opted to say nothing, instead of offering an apology to the family.
“Of course he didn’t have anything to say,” Whalen’s daughter, Brittany Hammond said.
“He doesn’t feel sorry.”