The family of Joey Whalen says the justice system has failed them in the wake of a joint sentencing recommendation that would see Kenny Green given a sentence of six years for causing Whalen's death last year in a downtown St. John's drug house.

Green is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. He had pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case.

Joey Whalen in a framed photograph

Joey Whalen died after being severely beaten in a drug house in downtown St. John's. (CBC)

The Crown told Supreme Court on Friday that it did not have strong enough evidence to pursue its case on the second-degree murder charge that Green originally faced. 

"He's walking away with a pat on the back for brutally, brutally murdering my brother," said Mike Whalen, Joey Whalen's brother.

"There's something, something definitely wrong here."

In an agreed statement of facts, Green, 35, admitted to pummelling Whalen, 47, during a fight that broke out at a house on Tessier Place where Green sold cocaine. The court was told that Whalen had been selling cocaine for Green, and that Green suspected Whalen was stealing from him.

Whalen died in hospital a few days after he was found in a blood-sprayed room in the Tessier Place house in March 2013.

"Joey never deserved to die like a piece of shit. Joey never deserved that," Mike Whalen said.

'We couldn't even open his casket'

Whalen said the family is still dealing with how Joey Whalen's body had been swollen from the severe beating that Green had given him.

"We couldn't even open his casket. His head was so big, and busted up so bad. We had his casket open for one hour, and we had to close it — it was disgusting, and they're giving us this amount [for a sentence]," he said. "It's not right."

The Crown and the defence presented a joint submission to Justice William Goodridge, agreeing that based on the evidence that can be presented, a six-year sentence would be reasonable. The recommendation includes deducting the amount of time that Green has already served in custody.

Whalen said the family wants to meet with top officials in the justice department to express their feelings about the case.

Meanwhile, Whalen said that while the court learned about his brother's involvement in the drug trade, his life was more than that.

"He was no angel," he said.

"He was on and off drugs over his lifetime but … before this I hunted with Joey. I trouted with Joey. The family went to parties with Joey. No one had a problem with Joey," he said in an interview. "He had a heart of gold."