Marco Muzzo to plead guilty in fatal collision case
Marco Muzzo’s lawyer has asked for a court appearance next month, at which point his client will plead guilty to various charges in connection with a crash that killed three children and their grandfather north of Toronto.
Muzzo’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan, submitted the request to a Superior Court judge in Newmarket, Ont. on Wednesday, after electing earlier in the day to be tried by a judge without a jury. Greenspan requested a court date of Feb. 4 to make a statement of facts and enter the guilty pleas.
The 29-year-old Muzzo faces 12 counts of impaired driving and six counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle related to the incident.
Greenspan said his client will plead guilty to multiple charges, adding that some charges are “redundant.” Certain charges against Muzzo are mutually exclusive, so some of the charges will disappear when he pleads guilty to others, Greenspan said. He added that Muzzo will not be entering any pleas of not guilty.
“Virtually from the outset of this tragedy, Marco Muzzo has accepted full responsibility and accountability,” Greenspan told reporters outside the courthouse.
Greenspan also stressed that there will be no plea bargain, and that the defence and the Crown will submit different arguments at the sentencing hearing.
“This is not a plea deal. This is an acceptance of responsibility by Marco Muzzo,” Greenspan said, after submitting the request to the judge. “He wanted this matter to be closed as quickly as possible, and to move on with the plea and the acceptance of responsibility.”
Sentencing is expected to take place Feb. 23-24.
On Sept. 27, Muzzo’s SUV collided with minivan in Vaughan, Ont., fatally wounding 9-year-old Daniel, 5-year-old Harrison (Harry) and 2-year-old Milagros (Milly) Neville-Lake. The children's 65-year-old grandfather Gary Neville also died as a result of the collision, and their grandmother and great-grandmother were injured.
Muzzo was allegedly drunk driving at nearly twice the speed limit when he allegedly ran a stop sign and struck the van.
The children’s parents, Jennifer Neville-Lake and Edward Lake, were present at the courthouse on Wednesday for Muzzo’s appearance.
Neville-Lake said her family is “cautiously optimistic” about Muzzo’s intent to plead guilty, but “we’re going to remain broken,” she said. Neville-Lake said she did not expect Wednesday’s development, and she is hesitant to believe it until the plea has been formally submitted next month.
“If it’s a guilty plea… then that acknowledges he’s the reason our children are dead,” Neville-Lake told reporters outside the courthouse, after the day’s events inside. She added that there is no “magic number” of years that she is hoping for at a potential sentencing hearing. “There is no sentence that he can ever do that is going to repay what he took from us,” she said. “He has one life. I’m missing my three children and my father – that’s four.”
Edward Lake spoke only briefly. “I feel lost. I feel destroyed,” he said.
Neville-Lake said her mother and grandmother are recovering physically from the crash, but both are dealing with memory loss.
Muzzo’s family owns a vast construction empire with operations in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Southwestern Ontario. Their construction company, Marel Contractors, is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion. They also own Pemberton Group, one of Toronto’s largest development companies, which has been in operation for more than 50 years.
Muzzo appeared in person at the courthouse Wednesday morning, and was there again on Wednesday afternoon.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Tamara Cherry and Colin D’Mello