Man who pushed stranger in front of subway train apologizes to victim's family

The Toronto man said at his sentencing hearing that the 2018 incident will haunt him for the rest of his life.

John Reszetnik pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree murder

A Toronto subway train. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A Toronto man apologized Tuesday to the family of the man he pushed in front of a moving subway nearly three years ago, saying the incident will haunt him for the rest of his life.

John Reszetnik addressed the family of Yosuke Hayahara during a virtual hearing in which lawyers for the defence and Crown also made sentencing submissions.

"I am very sorry to the family of Mr. Hayahara, to his daughter and to his grandchildren. This is going to weigh [on] me for the rest of my life," he said from the Toronto South Detention Centre, where he is being held.

"I apologize profusely. I was wrong, and I'm sorry."

John Reszetnik, 57, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Yosuke Hayahara. (Pam Davies/CBC)

Reszetnik pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree murder in connection with the June 18, 2018 incident.

Court has previously heard Reszetnik pushed the 73-year-old Hayahara, a stranger to him, in front of an incoming train at Toronto's Bloor-Yonge station just before 10:15 a.m. that day.

Though he initially left the scene, Reszetnik returned to the station and told both a firefighter and a police officer that he was the one behind the attack.

According to an agreed statement of facts, he told the police officer he "freaked out" because he was getting evicted.

"I imagined my landlord who, he's evicting me, and I can't find a place, and I'll be homeless. I really did it. It's no joke. I killed him, for God's sakes," he told the officer.

However, court heard Tuesday that Reszetnik was not being evicted but had in fact voluntarily agreed to leave one of the two apartments he rented, and could still remain in the other.

No evidence mental illness a factor, Crown says

In her submissions, defence lawyer Elizabeth Gaudet emphasized her client's remorse, noting he returned to the scene of the crime less than an hour later and confessed, and later pleaded guilty.

"There was no distancing by Mr. Reszetnik as to what he did," she told the court.

The Crown, meanwhile, rejected the argument that Reszetnik's responsibility was diminished by his mental illness, saying there is no evidence regarding the impact of mental health on his actions that day.

Court has heard Reszetnik refused to take part in a psychiatric assessment earlier this year and had only been assessed regarding his fitness to stand trial, something the presiding judge raised as a concern.

The subway in Toronto on Sept. 9, 2019. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

"It's very troubling, your client's unwillingness to participate in that, when your submission is that mental health caused the killing," Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon told Gaudet.

Gaudet agreed the lack of psychiatric information is concerning, but stressed she has "never gone so far as to say the mental health issues caused Mr. Reszetnik to commit this offence."

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years. Prosecutors are seeking 15 years of parole ineligibility, while the defence is seeking 12 to 13.

The judge is expected to deliver his sentence on April 12.