Friday, February 5, 2016
Marco Muzzo Pleads Guilty in Newmarket Court
Marco Michael Muzzo, to the charge of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of 65-year-old Gary Neville, how do you plead?
To the charge of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, how do you plead?
To the charge of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of five-year-old Harrison Neville-Lake, how do you plead?
To the charge of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of two-year-old Milagros (Milly) Neville-Lake, how do you plead?
And guilty as well to causing the grievous injuries of Neriza Neville and her elderly mother Josefina Frias.
Then, surrounded by bodyguards, the heir to a construction empire was freed on $1-million bail posted by his mother, Dawn ,and the parents of his fiancee until his sentencing hearing begins Feb. 23. Knowing the public outcry that would likely ensue, Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst specifically noted that his release on strict house arrest was permissible by law and “not some kind of special privilege extended to Mr. Muzzo.”
His lawyer, Brian Greenspan, echoed the same, saying any suggestion to the contrary was “outrageous.” Bail pending sentencing was “a right enjoyed by anyone,” he insisted.
Yet the outrage, as expected, came fast and furious: Muzzo was getting off easy. There’s a different justice for the rich than the poor. And on and on.
Behind bars since his arrest on Sept. 27, Muzzo has lost a lot of weight and needs to address “medical” and counselling issues during his 18 days of very limited freedom before he surrenders to face serious federal prison time. He has pled guilty; he has done the right thing. On an intellectual level, there’s nothing wrong with letting him out for a few weeks. Yet it seems so offensive just the same.
But then no amount of punishment will satisfy in this case. No amount of penance will assuage the killing of three little children.
It was hearing her babies’ names said in court, pronounced dead at the hands of a drunk driver, that left their mother reeling once more. This nightmare was true, it was all too real. Jennifer Neville-Lake clung to her husband, Edward Lake. In her hands were photos of Daniel: One picture taken just after he was born; the other, a school photo taken two days before he was killed by an impaired driver.
Daniel wanted a laser tag birthday party. Instead, his parents spent the day at his grave. “He’s not here with me anymore,” his mother said outside the courthouse, her voice breaking.
So no, she is not ready to forgive Muzzo.
“My religion teaches me that at some point, perhaps, if I live that long. But I guess the question is, is this survivable for us to get to that point?”
Muzzo is expected to express his remorse at his sentencing hearing, but Neville-Lake said it will bring no comfort. By driving drunk, he shattered her entire world and no apology can mend it. “He chose to do this, he chose to drive impaired,” she insisted. “Harrison, Daniel, Milagros, my dad. They can’t be brought back. So no, there is nothing he can say.”
All she and her husband have left now is their faith in the system. “It can’t be money vs no money,” she said. “I have to believe in justice.”
But Neville-Lake knows that sentences for this crime are not long. “It seems to be right now, if you kill someone while you’re impaired, the consequences are very light.” No number, though, will ever seem enough.
Four lives wiped out on a bright Sunday afternoon. Needless, stupid, selfish carnage by a man old enough to know better.
And after yet another press conference outside the courthouse, two broken parents went back to their empty Brampton home.
THE DEADLY EVENTS OF SEPT. 27, 2015
*At 3:15 p.m., Marco Muzzo, 29, arrives at Pearson airport on his family’s corporate jet from his bachelor party weekend in Miami. He and fiancee Taryn Hampton were supposed to wed on Oct. 17. According to his lawyer, this is the first time he’s flown on the private jet.
*After clearing customs, he gets into his black Jeep Grand Cherokee and leaves the parking lot at 3:27 p.m., heading to his home in Vaughan.
The weather is clear, traffic is light.
*At 4 p.m., Muzzo is travelling north on Kipling Ave. The posted speed limit is 80 km/h. He approaches Kirby Rd. and a large stop sign. He brakes, but not in time.
*The Nevilles are taking care of their grandkids for the day. Coming westbound on Kirby Rd. is a brand new Dodge Caravan driven by Neriza Neville, 64. Seated in the front is her mother, Josefina Frias, 91. In the middle row sits her two grandsons, Daniel Neville-Lake, 9 and Harrison, 5. In the back is her granddaughter, Millie, 2, and husband Gary Neville. By habit, she slows to 47 km/h as she approaches the intersection. She has the right of way.
*Muzzo is doing 85 km/h when he blows through the stop sign and T-bones the minivan, smashing the entire driver’s side and sending it into a ditch. His jeep spins and hits a northbound Mercedes before coming to a stop.
*Inside the Caravan, three little children and their grandfather are dying.
*Muzzo emerges from his vehicle and witnesses describe a man obviously under the influence of alcohol.
*The first officer on the scene, York Regional Police Const. Matthew Landry, says Muzzo urinates himself, is unsteady on his feet, has glossy eyes, tries to use people to keep his balance, has a difficult time understanding directions and smells of alcohol.
*After Muzzo admits being the driver of the Jeep, he’s arrested. Shortly after arriving at the police station for breath samples, he learns Gary Neville and his oldest grandson, Daniel, have died.
*Muzzo provides two breath samples. The first, at 6:13 p.m., is 192 mg of alcohol/100 ml of blood. The second reading at 6:34 p.m. is 204 mg of alcohol/100 ml blood. A toxicologist later concludes his blood alcohol concentration at the time of the collision would have been between 190-245 — at least twice to three times the legal limit of 80.
*After the breath samples, Muzzo learns Milly and Harrison Neville-Lake have also died.
*Neriza Neville is recuperating at home from painful injuries to her neck, chest and legs. She also suffers from anxiety. Her elderly mother, Josefina Frias, spent two weeks in hospital with several fractures. She has a brain bleed and significant memory loss.
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