An Ontario man who killed his 25-year-old female neighbor was sentenced to life in prison. The "savage" fatal beating of Alicia Ross by her neighbor Daniel Sylvester was described as an act of "extreme cruelty and callousness," by an Ontario Superior Court judge who imposed a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 16 years.
Daniel Sylvester, 33, who was found guilty in May of second-degree murder in the death of Alicia Ross, intended to kill her and covered up the crime to avoid detection, only turning himself in to police when he realized that he would likely be caught. The 33-year-old self described recluse and "loser" confessed to police he killed Ross, five weeks after she disappeared.
Sylvester was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder on May 29, after the eight women and four men deliberated for less than four hours.
During the sentencing, Judge Ted Minden focused on the brutality of the crime and said he didn't believe Sylvester's claim that he was provoked into an attack by a comment Ross made.
Knowing Ross was alone and vulnerable after kissing her boyfriend goodbye in the early hours of Aug. 17, 2005, Sylvester attacked the young woman, delivering a beating so vicious that it left her with injuries similar to those of a plane-crash victim.
The "social misfit" with a long history of psychiatric and emotional problems hit Ross in the face, forced her to the ground, kneed her in the chest, then slammed her head into the pavement two or three times. There were more than 30 fractures to her body, including shattered ribs and other injuries to her face and neck, court heard. But no cause of death was ever determined.
Even after seeing that Ross was unconscious and bleeding profusely, Sylvester did nothing to help her.
"He simply left her on the ground to die," Minden said.
The judge called Sylvester a "deeply disturbed" individual and said he believed the crime had a sexual nature to it. Sylvester had "illogical" explanations for why Ross was stripped of her clothing from the waist down and evidence that the unemployed recluse - who often spied on neighbors for sexual gratification - masturbated at a moment close to her death.
That same night, Sylvester cleaned up the scene of the crime and disposed of Ross's body beside a road near the town of Manilla, Ont., about 80 kilometers from her home. He later moved them to a forested area near his family cottage in Coboconk, Ont., some 60 kilometers north.
But as the weeks passed, Sylvester realized that his "calculated, elaborate" plan to avoid detection by police was on the verge of collapse because he left behind two crucial pieces of evidence: his wallet with identification in a bag of evidence he'd dumped after the crime, and Ross's skull, which Sylvester was unable to locate after moving her body a second time.
A widely publicized search for Ross uncovered no clues about her disappearance and the police investigation focused on her boyfriend until Sylvester confessed.
Sylvester visited the Manilla site at least 10 times before turning himself in to police in September 2005. He led police to Ross's skeletal remains, which had been left in the open and scavenged by animals.
While Sylvester had no prior criminal record and there was no evidence of previous acts of violence, his prospects for rehabilitation were "remote" because he had long rejected any professional help, Minden said.
Ross's mother Sharon Fortis, who cried and wiped away tears during the sentencing, called the sentence "bittersweet" and said it would do nothing to diminish the loss of her daughter.
The judge also ordered Sylvester to submit his DNA for the national sex offenders registry and also agreed to the Crown's request for a lifetime firearms ban.