Before handing down his sentence to Chaze Lamar Thompson for killing Dartmouth taxi driver Sergei Kostin, Justice Glen McDougall asked the 22-year-old a question that may never be answered.
“Why? Why?” he asked about Thompson’s reasons for taking out a gun in the backseat of Kostin’s cab and firing a round into the unarmed man’s head.
“Was it to avoid paying the $25 cab fare?” asked McDougall. “Was it perhaps to rob the cabbie of a few dollars he might have had in his pocket? Was it to impress your cousin … or was it simply for the thrill of taking another person’s life.”
McDougall handed Thompson an automatic life sentence in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years after a jury of seven men and five women on Thursday found the North Preston father of one guilty of first-degree murder.
The verdict brought loud sobbing from Thompson’s mother, who could be heard later crying just outside the courtroom and yelling, “No, no, no, give me my baby.”
Thompson was arrested after Kostin’s body was found in a shallow grave in North Preston in April 2009.
Kostin had disappeared after picking up a fare in Dartmouth in January.
The Crown’s case during the six-week trial was bolstered by testimony from Thompson’s cousin, Wayne McAvoy, who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for his cooperation.
McAvoy testified Thompson shot Kostin in the back of the head when they arrived at their destination in Cherry Brook.
“Taxi drivers will be able to breathe a little easier knowing that (you) won’t be sitting in the backseat of their cab. They won’t have to worry about you putting a bullet in their head, or anyone else’s head for that matter,” McDougall said to Thompson.
McDougall also spoke of the victim, and the effects his murder has had on his family back in the Ukraine. He referred to Kostin as a role model, who came to Canada to try and make a better life for his family.
“His reward for being that kind of person was a bullet fired from a gun by someone who obviously lacks any type of compassion, respect for human life.”
Thompson says he was ‘wrongfully convicted’
Chaze Lamar Thompson is maintaining his innocence.
Sporting an all-black outfit, including a black baseball cap, Thompson stood quietly as the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Sergei Kostin.
Justice Glen McDougall later asked Thompson if he had anything to say prior to being sentenced.
“I would just like to say despite the fact that I was wrongfully accused, wrongfully convicted, I just want my mother to know that she is a true soldier,” Thompson said, turning to look at her as she sobbed.
“You don’t have to cry, just smile, because I’m going to smile. Your son’s not in a casket. You get to talk to me every night. You’ll get to hug me again.”
Thompson then said he had “full remorse for what happened to Sergei Kostin, and I pray for his family.”
Thompson didn’t testify in his own defence at trial.