Slain drug dealer 'a loving soul,' mother tells court

Robert (Bobby) Martin Jr. was more than just a drug dealer, his mother told Fredericton's Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday.

After death of son Bobby Martin Jr., 'I will never mend,' Susan Richardson says at sentencing hearing

Susan Richardson said she had a very close relationship with her first-born, Bobby Martin Jr., and losing him has killed a part of her too. (CBC)

Robert "Bobby" Martin Jr. was more than just a drug dealer, his mother told Fredericton's Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday.

"He was a loving soul," who helped people in need, believed in God and wrote poetry, said Susan Richardson, fighting back tears as she read her victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing of Joe-Anna Hachey for manslaughter.

Richardson said she wanted the court to know "the real Bobby" — a son, brother, father and uncle who collected antiques and hockey cards and "was finally changing his life around" before he was killed.

Bobby received a death sentence while his family received a life sentence without him.- Susan Richardson, victim's mother

Martin, 34, was shot twice at a mobile home in Lincoln, outside Fredericton, on Jan. 26, 2017.​

Hachey, 24, of Fredericton, and Evan Polchies, 31, of Kingsclear First Nation were both charged with second-degree murder.

Hachey was scheduled to stand trial in April but pleaded guilty in March to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The statement of facts presented with Hachey's plea said she and Polchies were both using cocaine that night and asked Martin to bring them $500 worth of the drug to the trailer where they were staying.

Their plan was to get the drugs without paying, the courtroom heard. Before Martin arrived, Hachey said Polchies told her he would use a loaded gun to scare him and shoot him if he had to.

"Bobby received a death sentence while his family received a life sentence without him," said Richardson.

"I am broken, I will never mend. I was destroyed the day my son's life was taken."

Bobby Martin Jr.'s mother recounted for the court a day she saw her son give his winter coat and lunch money to a homeless man. 'That's the type of person he was. He always did what he could to help anybody,' she said. (Submitted)

Hachey, who cried quietly during parts of Richardson's statement, apologized to the family for their "tragic loss."

"I know no words can take away the pain and the grief," she said. "I wish I could turn back time."

"Please know that I am deeply sorry from the bottom of my heart."

Hachey said she is "haunted by [her] inexcusable actions" and will never forgive herself for her role in "the awful crime."

She said she accepts responsibility but blamed her drug addiction, which also cost her custody of her three children.

"That person was truly not me," she said. "I was in an extremely dark place in my life and in an extreme state of drug-induced psychosis."

Rachel Comeau, who had been friends with Bobby Martin Jr. since they were teens, said no matter what he was doing, he would always make time for her and make sure she had a safe place to stay. (CBC)

Martin's friend Rachel Comeau, who also read a victim impact statement, rejected Hachey's claims as an "excuse."

"I lost a decade of my life to drug use and not once would I have ever put anybody's life at risk," Comeau told reporters outside the courthouse.

She described Martin as a kind, sympathetic person with a "huge heart."

When she was using drugs and on the street, he would pick her up, take her to a warm place, make sure she was fed and had clean, dry clothes, she said.

Victim was making changes

Comeau, who has been sober for seven years, said she, like Martin's mother, had also noticed recent changes in him.

"He was doing good with his life, positive and it's too bad that — you know, I've changed my life around and he was on his way there too, and it's too bad that he couldn't have continued.

"It's truly heartbreaking."

His mother told the court Martin "might have made a lot of bad choices," but he "owned his mistakes" and never tried to "make himself into anything more than he was."

"He might have done some bad things, but he was a good person," Richardson told reporters following the hearing.

"Bobby didn't deserve what he got."

She said she can't get the image of him bleeding to death out of her head, and the court proceedings have been "an emotional roller-coaster."

Richardson said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is seeing a psychiatrist and counsellor. Her marriage has suffered, she has difficulty sleeping, tries to avoid people and seldom even gets dressed.

"I just want him back."

Joe-Anna Hachey told the court she never intended for anyone to lose their life that night and didn't think anyone would. (RCMP)

Crown prosecutor Claude Haché recommended an eight-year sentence for Hachey.

She lured Martin to the mobile home, knowing Polchies had a loaded rifle, and persuaded him to enter the house, setting him up, Haché said.

Defence lawyer Douglas Smith asked the judge to consider a sentence of between four and five years because he believes she can be rehabilitated.

He argued Joe-Anna Hachey was not directly responsible for Martin's death. She didn't provide the gun, didn't shoot him and wasn't even in the same room when he was shot, he said.

After the shooting, she didn't exhibit the behaviour of a person who expected the events to unfold as they did, said Smith, noting she panicked and called the owner of the house.

Smith told the court Hachey came from a split family and suffered years of abuse by various men.

She had four children, but one of them died at birth and the other three were taken away by Social Services.

She is off drugs now and is remorseful, he said.

Justice Darrell Stephenson adjourned sentencing until May 25 at 1:30 p.m.

Testified against friend

Evan Polchies is scheduled to be retried for second-degree murder on Sept. 10 after his first trial ended in a mistrial. (RCMP)

Polchies is scheduled to be retried for second-degree murder on Sept. 10.

His first trial ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict, following more than four days of deliberations.

He is also charged with intimidating Hachey, who had testified against him.

The statement of facts presented with Hachey's plea said Polchies left the trailer with the rifle after the shooting, while she cleaned up the blood inside the doorway.

The pair then went on the run until they were arrested three days later.

Hachey's signed statement said her guilty plea was an admission she committed a robbery, an unlawful act that was dangerous because it exposed Martin to bodily harm and caused his death.

She said she had also posted on Facebook that she shot Martin, suggesting she had killed him in self-defence to take the blame away from Polchies.

With files from Catherine Harrop