On July 4, 2006, Daniel Sylvester went to court for a preliminary hearing.
The murder trial began May 7, 2007 - nearly a year-and-a-half after Ross' initial disappearance - with a jury of 8 women and 4 men. Sylvester attempted to plead guilty to manslaughter in the death of Ms. Ross, which would have suggested that the lawyers would try to argue that the death was unintentional, but the plea was rejected by the court. Prosecutor Kelly Wright stated:
He told police he encountered her and they exchanged words ... He slapped her on the face. He pushed her on the ground and drove his knee into her solar plexus several times. He took her head and banged it into the ground several times," the prosecutor said. Mr. Sylvester lined the inside of his truck and put the body of Ms. Ross inside. He cleaned up the blood, had a shower and drove about 80 kilometres northeast of his home to a wooded area near the town of Manilla. Some of the remains were transferred three weeks later by Mr. Sylvester to the Coboconk location, said Ms. Wright.
The courtroom testimony saw Sylvester describing himself as a "fringe" individual who did not do well with other people. According to testimonies, Sylvester advanced upon Ross slightly after her boyfriend had left.
Sylvester said that during the argument with Ross, she called him a name, which made him snap. "She insulted me and called me a loser and that's what really got me going," he said on the video. Asked by McViety if he'd ever been called that name before, he responded: "Yes, many times throughout high school and ... even grade school. I just have social difficulties with other kids. I have anxiety problems," he said. ... McViety asked him to pen a letter to Ross and her family. "I don't know what I'd say," he told the detective as he started sobbing uncontrollably. "I would say I had no right to take your daughter's life," he cried, turning away from the detective and facing a wall. Through his tears, he wrote a two-sentence note to Ross's family: "I am beyond words. I cannot possible express how sorry I am for what I have (done)." McViety left the interview room, but the tape was still rolling. Sylvester could barely be heard talking to himself: "I should never have been born. Earlier in the tape, Sylvester said he regretted the grief he had caused his mother. "I told her that ... I'd never do this to hurt you, I'd never put you in this position. All the shame and humiliation you're going to have to bear being associated with me...You know that she doesn't need that. (She's) 71,"
In his confession to police, Sylvester stated that he had also confessed to a Catholic priest at a nearby church.
The trial was based on the question of whether Sylvester had intended to kill Ross, which would lead to a second-degree murder conviction, or whether there was no premeditation nor intention to kill Ross, which would lead to a manslaughter conviction.
"In the end, after three hours and 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury was beyond a reasonable doubt in their decision that Sylvester either intended to kill his next-door neighbour Ross between their Markham houses on Aug. 17, 2005, or that he had used force he knew could kill her and acted reckless in allowing the death to happen.
Sylvester was convicted of second-degree murder and given a life sentence, with no parole possibility for 16 years. The earliest he will be eligible for parole is September 20, 2021.
Read more about this topic: Alicia Ross
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