'All of my babies are gone': Victim impact statements at Muzzo sentencing
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2016 4:35AM EST Last Updated Tuesday, February 23, 2016 2:07PM EST
The mother of three children killed in a horrific car crash fought back tears as she told a Newmarket, Ont. court that she feels like she's been "dying inside" since their deaths.
Jennifer Neville-Lake spoke directly to the man who has admitted to drinking and driving in the crash that claimed the lives of her three children, and her father.
Muzzo has pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death, and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.
Through tears, she told 29-year-old Marco Muzzo the consequences of his actions, the day he decided to get behind the wheel.
"I am dying inside," she told him, speaking on the first day of Muzzo's sentencing hearing.
"Like my children that your choices put on life support, I am lifeless. Only my heart is beating."
Muzzo pleaded guilty earlier this month to six charges in a car crash that killed nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly, and the children's 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville. They died after the van they were in was T-boned by an SUV in Vaughan, Ont. on Sept. 27.
The children's mother told Muzzo of the moments after the crash, when she saw the damaged van on the news and started to cry. She soon learned that her father and Daniel had died. In that moment, she said, she couldn't breathe or speak.
Neville-Lake and her husband, Edward Lake, got in their car and raced to the hospital. She said Lake tried to jump out of the car "a few times" on the way.
When she arrived, she was told the children were both braindead, but had been put on life support so they could say goodbye.
"I remember crying out, 'All of my babies are gone. Not one left,'" she said through tears.
Neville-Lake told Muzzo and the court about seeing her daughter and younger son lying in hospital beds, and about seeing scans showing the damage to the children's bodies.
"Their spines look like the block tower I built with (Milly) before your selfish actions took her away," she said, looking at Muzzo.
Neville-Lake then spoke about the day that she chose the children's final resting place, a grave she called their "forever bed."
She said a friend looked for blankets to make the grave a little warmer. She then dressed her children's bodies in their favourite outfits.
"We sit and stare at the family we created," she told the court of the children's funeral.
"My dreams, my loves, my world and my legacy are lowered into the ground. I want to go with them so badly," she said.
"Our home was a very busy, very active home full of laughter and love. Shame on you for taking my loves from me."
Neville-Lake began to sob in court, prompting the judge to ask whether she wanted a break. She said no, relating instead a description of her life since the crash.
"It hurts looking at my family table and knowing my family is dead because of you. It's like a sucker punch to the gut," she said, looking at Muzzo through tears.
"When you killed my children, you took my identity as a mother. Without my kids, I'm nothing anymore."
She said she has a hard time being around other children, and walking past her children's bedrooms. She told him she hasn't been able to cope with the loss of her father yet, because she's been so overwhelmed with the children's deaths.
"I am drowning in the horror of what your choices did to me," she said.
"I am serving a life sentence because of you, haunted by what was and can never be again."
She said she still cries herself to sleep, and is afraid when people are late. She also has a hard time leaving her home.
She told the court she wished she'd been in the car the day of the crash.
"The true insult: my name, my children's name and my father's name will always be linked with yours. I don't know if I can live with the shame of being associated with a drunk driver like you," she said.
When she finished speaking, she laid her head on her husband's shoulder. Edward Lake had addressed the hearing just moments before Neville-Lake spoke.
Neville-Lakes' father will miss being a dad
In his own emotional account of the impact of losing three children, Lake said that he misses their hugs, taking them to the toy store, and receiving special surprises on Father's Day.
"Most importantly, I will miss being a dad," Lake said in his victim impact statement.
Lake said, since the death of his three children and his father-in-law, he's had suicidal thoughts and he has been unable to return to work.
"I was looking forward to raising our children and watching them grow up, but now that will never be," Lake said.
He was one of several family and community members who made statements during Muzzo's sentencing hearing.
The children's grandmother, Neriza Neville, and great-grandmother were also seriously injured in the crash.
Neville told the court that she vividly remembers the screeching sound as their van was hit by Muzzo's SUV, and a "suffocating feeling."
"I called out their names, but no one answered," she recalled.
Neriza Neville told the court how she'll never get to see her grandson Daniel dance again, or receive kisses from her grandson Harry.
"I won't get to attend their weddings."
While reading her statement to the court, the Neville-Lake children's great-aunt raised her voice at one point, saying to Muzzo, "You shattered the precious life of Ed and Jennifer.
"Our family are victims of your egotistical decision," before adding, "shame on you!"
Muzzo expected to address the court
Court broke shortly before 1 p.m. on Tuesday, and Muzzo was led away in handcuffs. Muzzo was released on bail earlier this month, but will remain segregated in police custody until court resumes on Wednesday when he is expected to address the court.
Muzzo's lawyer Brian Greenspan said that he expects the sentencing hearing to continue for two days.
The court heard that prior to the deadly crash, Muzzo had returned from a trip to Miami on a private jet.
Shortly after driving off from the airport in his SUV, Muzzo drove through a stop sign on Kipling Avenue and struck the minivan carrying the Neville-Lake family.