Alicia Ross' mom says death has torn family apart
Alicia Ross' mother says her once happy life is now filled with pain and misery since her 25-year-old daughter was brutally murdered almost two years ago outside their Markham home.
A Newmarket courtroom was brought to tears as Sharon Fortis described her anguish in a 25-minute victim impact statement on Wednesday.
"She's in therapy and she says her family is struggling to stay together," CTV's John Musselman reported.
"They don't celebrate birthdays. In fact, Sharon Fortis said that she now hates Mother's Day because her baby has been taken away."
Fortis said she wants to die so she can be reunited with her daughter. She wept as she described how she lay atop a pile of photos of Ross in a desperate effort to be close to her again.
Fortis said she often cries herself to sleep at night thinking of her daughter's final moments.
"I constantly visualize how Alicia died, how she was left naked to rot," she said. "Everyday I wake up it feels like someone punched me in the stomach."
Fortis also said no family photos have been taken since Ross was killed on Aug. 17, 2005.
She said no one goes into Ross' room because it's just too upsetting.
"It is a cold, dark bedroom of a dead girl," Fortis told the court.
The testimony was one of 22 victim impact statements submitted at Daniel Sylvester's sentencing hearing.
A jury found Sylvester guilty of second-degree murder on May 29 for the killing of Ross.
The conviction carries an automatic life sentence and no chance of parole for at least 10 years. Parole eligibility of between 10 and 25 years must now be decided by the judge.
Jurors deliberated for less than four hours before returning their verdict, rejecting the defence's position that Sylvester was provoked before beating Ross in the pathway between their homes.
The defence also maintained Sylvester never meant to kill Ross.
Sylvester, 33, admitted he slammed Ross' head off the ground and repeatedly kneed her in the body during the encounter, but he said he "lost it" after she called him a "loser," court heard.
Sylvester then dumped Ross' remains at two wooded areas near Coboconk and Manilla.
Ross' disappearance sparked one of the largest missing persons case in Ontario history.
Sylvester surrendered to police five weeks after the killing, and helped police locate Ross' body.
He tried to plead guilty to manslaughter before his trial, but the Crown rejected that attempt and tried him for second-degree murder.
A forensic psychologist testified Sylvester is an emotionally troubled man who suffers from anxiety and depression. Sylvester has been seeing psychiatrists and psychologists since he was eight or nine years old.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Friday morning.
With a report from CTV's John Musselman