Jury finds neighbour guilty in Alicia Ross murder
A jury has found Daniel Sylvester guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of his next-door neighbour, Alicia Ross.
The eight-woman, four-man jury deliberated for less than four hours before returning the verdict on Tuesday afternoon.
Ross' mother, Sharon Fortis, broke down in tears and hugged her husband Julius when the verdict was read out in a Newmarket, Ont. courtroom.
Sylvester, 33, showed no emotion upon hearing the decision. His mother Olga showed little reaction, CTV's John Musselman reported.
The verdict means jurors concluded Sylvester intended to kill 25-year-old Ross on the pathway between their Markham homes when he attacked her on Aug. 17, 2005.
Court heard Sylvester kneed Ross in the chest and slammed her head off the ground repeatedly after she called him a "loser."
The second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence and no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
Parole eligibility of between 10 and 25 years will be decided at a sentencing hearing on July 4. Victim impact statements from Ross family members will also be presented.
Outside court, Fortis read a statement, thanking the jury.
"The pain of our loss will never go away. It is with us every day, but you believed in the truth and delivered a verdict that now helps all of us move forward to the day when we hope memories will be cherished happy times, rather than painful reminders of how Alicia died," she said.
Sylvester pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. He tried to plead guilty to manslaughter before the trial began earlier this month, but the Crown rejected that move.
The defence maintained Sylvester "lost it" and didn't intend to kill Ross in the vicious attack.
The prosecution, however, labelled Sylvester a liar and manipulator. The Crown said he watched Ross kiss her boyfriend goodnight before the confrontation between their homes.
At trial, court heard Sylvester is a chronic masturbator and engaged in peeping Tom behaviour in the past. The Crown maintains his attack on Ross was sexually charged.
Court has heard Sylvester admitted killing Ross and then dumping her remains at two wooded areas near Coboconk and Manilla.
He surrendered to police five weeks after Ross went missing and helped investigators locate Ross' remains.
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.
Ross' mother attended the three-week trial every day, often listening to gruesome details of her daughter's death.
Sylvester's mother has also attended the trial, often smiling and waving to her son in the prisoner's dock.
Ross' disappearance sparked one of the largest missing persons investigations in Ontario's history.
More than 500 people packed a Toronto synagogue to say goodbye to Ross, who was described by her mother as "an adorable baby, a precocious toddler, a blossoming preteen and a terrible, terrible teenager."
She was an avid outdoorswoman who enjoyed playing her guitar and watching the TV show "The Amazing Race" with her mom.
Sean Hine, Ross' boyfriend at the time of her death, was with her on the night she was killed, court heard.
Hine was at Ross' house and kissed her goodnight moments before Sylvester's attack.
Until Sylvester surrendered to police, Hine was considered a "person of interest" in the case.
After Sylvester's arrest, neighbours and friends described the man as a shy and quiet loner who was nonetheless raised in an excellent home.
With a report from CTV's John Musselman