Tense, emotional courtroom as Saskatoon man sentenced for manslaughter
It was an emotional afternoon at Saskatchewan Provincial Court for the sentencing of 28-year-old Joel Yuzicapi, who was charged in relation to the death of 27-year-old Preston Logan Thomas.
Yuzicapi had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Nov. 1, and on Friday was sentenced to six years and six-and-a-half months in jail with time served.
The judge also ordered he provided a DNA sample suitable for forensic analysis and a lifetime firearms ban.
Thomas’ mother, Lillian Thomas, entered the courtroom with a picture collage of her son, saying “he took my baby away” in reference to Yuzicapi, and telling him Thomas’ two children no longer have a father.
Thomas’ step-father was seated close to the prisoner’s box, and began taunting Yuzicapi saying “gutless” and “tough guy.”
It was a tense atmosphere that led to yelling from some in attendance in the room, including the families of both Thomas and Yuzicapi, with several deputy sheriffs stepping in to separate them and deescalate the situation.
A short break in the proceedings was taken, with the judge addressing the gallery saying that kind of behaviour would not be tolerated.
Following the break, victim impact statements were read, with Thomas’ mother saying Yuzicapi “should do better behind bars” so he could change and “be as good as my son was.”
Yuzicapi apologized to Thomas’ family, saying not a day goes by that he wishes he could take back what he had done, and he’d be dealing with it for the rest of his life.
Before sentencing, Thomas’ mother broke down into sobbing and left the courtroom, saying “I don’t hate you Joel, I don’t hate anybody.”
The agreed upon facts of the case say police were called to the Saskatoon Inn on Airport Drive the morning of Aug. 1, 2020, finding Thomas on the floor dead in room 723.
Thomas and Yuzicapi, who were known to each other and didn’t get along, were part of a small group who were in the room celebrating a birthday.
An altercation led to an intoxicated Yuzicapi stabbing Thomas twice; once in the lower left chest and once just below the collarbone.
An autopsy report revealed Thomas died of blood loss due to the stab wound to the lower chest, after the blade perforated his heart.
Court heard Yuzicapi was unlawfully at large and had a history of violence, and fled the scene.