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Convicted LRT killer Jeremy Newborn to be sentenced in January

A jury found Jeremy Newborn, 35, guilty of second-degree murder a year and a half ago. At a sentencing hearing this week, Newborn's lawyer argued the automatic life sentence for second-degree murder is unconstitutional.

Victim’s family begs for the harshest sentence possible

Jeremy Newborn will be sentenced Jan. 19 after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. (Amanda McRoberts)

Alysha Hollar said she watched her big brother take his last breath.

John Hollar was viciously attacked on an LRT train on December 28, 2012, by Jeremy Newborn.

Newborn repeatedly stomped on the 29-year-old's head, even after Hollar lost consciousness.

Two days later, Hollar was taken off life support.

In a victim impact statement read in court Tuesday afternoon, Alysha Hollar recalled her time in hospital with her brother.

"I was looking at the strongest man I knew and he looked so small and so defenceless. I sat by his side and played his favourite songs."

She said she kept hoping he'd open his eyes and smile at her.

She placed her head on his chest so she could feel his heart, counting the seconds between each gasp her brother took while they grew more and more faint.

"I watched tears roll down his cheeks," she said. "I know he was sad to hear his little sister saying her goodbyes."

Hollar stared at Newborn in the prisoner's box and said, "He didn't deserve this, Jeremy. He was only 29."

John Hollar was 29 years old when he was attacked on an LRT train by Jeremy Newborn. The two men did not know each other. (Supplied )

Newborn showed no reaction.

In her victim impact statement, the victim's mother, Brenda Hollar, told the court, "I feel he [Newborn] should receive the maximum sentence possible."

Sentencing submissions

Newborn was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury a year and a half ago.

That conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years.

But defence lawyer Simon Renouf argued the automatic life sentence amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because of Newborn's very low IQ and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder-like symptoms.

During the 2016 jury trial, Renouf argued Newborn didn't have the mental capacity to form the intent to kill.

According to the author of a sentencing report entered as a court exhibit, Newborn said, "I still do not remember the incident. I had taken too many drugs. I feel bad that someone had died because of my drinking and drug use.

"He was not supposed to die. I had nothing against this man."

'Life sentence is ... what society expects'

Prosecutor John Watson argued Newborn deserves a life sentence with no chance of parole for 16 to 18 years.

Watson told Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench Justice Brian Burrows the jury's findings are "the backdrop to this case."

He pointed to the gratuitous violence of the murder, Newborn's long criminal record, character and aggressive behaviour.

"Taking into account all the aggravating factors, a life sentence is appropriate. It is not even excessive. It's what society expects," Watson said.

Newborn's psychiatrist at Alberta Hospital Edmonton wrote in a report that, "No amount of treatment is likely to change his drug-seeking behaviour, or his tendency to threaten others to get what he wants or assault them."  

Dr. Oto Cadsky believes Newborn will remain "a management and containment problem, no matter where he is housed, for many years."

Burrows will sentence Newborn on Jan. 19. Despite a request from the defence to leave Newborn at Alberta Hospital until then, Burrows ordered the killer's return to the Edmonton Remand Centre. 

About the Author

Janice Johnston

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston