The man who stabbed and killed Preston Pellerin on Nov. 15, 2019 has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Steffin Rees, 19, faces the possibility of 15 years in prison, as well as enhanced parole ineligibility. He was initially charged with second-degree murder, however, the Crown agreed to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Justice Dan Cornell will preside over sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. Victim impact statements will be read, and it is expected to take half a day.
The Crown will also be seeking a lifetime weapons ban, a DNA order and a non-communications order.
In an agreed statement of facts, the court heard Rees and Pellerin had lived in the same group home, and the two had become friends, with almost a “brotherly bond” existing between the two, said assistant Crown attorney Lindsey Santerre.
In the weeks leading up to Pellerin’s murder, their friendship began to dissolve, said Santerre.
On Sept. 30, 2019, Rees turned 18 and aged out of the group home. He had been set up with an apartment on Frood Road, but with very little education and no significant life skills, he resorted to selling drugs to get by.
Rees kept drugs and cash in a blue lockbox in his apartment.
On Oct. 27, 2019, Pellerin returned to the group home in possession of a lockbox. A worker at the group home saw him with the lockbox and confiscated it, leaving a note for other staff not to return the box to Pellerin, as she believed it belonged to someone else.
However, staff did return the lockbox to Pellerin. He managed to break open the box and found speed pills, $80 in cash and Rees’ birth certificate.
Group home staff took the speed pills and called Greater Sudbury Police, but Pellerin kept the cash. The birth certificate was ultimately returned to Rees.
“It is alleged that Mr. Pellerin stole the lockbox from Mr. Rees,” said Santerre. “It was this betrayal that ultimately led to Mr. Pellerin’s death.”
In the days leading up to his death, Rees was “openly voicing” his discontent with Pellerin.
On Oct 31, 2019, Rees was speaking to one of his former group home workers. He had a six-inch knife with a cord wrapped around the handle. He handed the knife to the worker and asked him, “do you feel that?” He further told the worker he wanted to stab Pellerin in the head with it.
The worker reported the incident to his supervisors, who reported it to police. Officers attended the group home to speak with Pellerin, who was made aware of the threats, but ultimately no charges were laid, said Santerre.
Rees also wrote rap lyrics about his desire to stab Pellerin. Police found the hand-written lyrics during a search of Rees’s apartment. Rees had also shared the lyrics on social media.
Rees also sent messages to one of the group home workers, telling them he was looking for Pellering and that he wanted to “fuck him up.”
Rees also sent direct messages on Facebook to Pellerin. The last message was sent on Nov. 8, 2019.
On Nov. 11, 2019, Rees told Pellerin’s girlfriend he was going to stab her boyfriend.
Four days later, Rees delivered on his threat.
On Nov. 15, 2019, at about 10:30 a.m., Rees is seen on video surveillance walking through the Sudbury Transit centre. He crossed the street to the government building on Cedar Street.
Seconds later, Pellerin was seen exiting the terminal. He abruptly crossed Cedar street and confronted Rees.
Pellerin had his arms stretched out to either side, palms facing forward to show he had no weapons. He asked Rees, “what are you going to do? Stab me?”
Without a single word, Rees lunged forward and stabbed Pellerin in the chest, puncturing his heart.
“Mr. Pellerin was unarmed, he had no time to react, and he was unable to defend himself,” said Santerre. “He was 17 years old.”
While Rees fled, those who witnessed the stabbing immediately started to provide medical attention to Pellerin. Police and paramedics arrived on scene moments later. Pellerin was taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead.
Rees began to brag to his friends that he had stabbed Pellerin. He was described as being “hyped up” about the stabbing, and that he was excited about it, said Santerre.
“He was proud of his actions, and showed no remorse for the well-being of Mr. Pellerin,” said Santerre.
Once Rees learned Pellerin had died, he went to a friend’s place and changed his clothes. Police seized those clothes with a search warrant.
Even during a police interview, Rees showed no emotion, court was told.
An autopsy confirmed the cause of death to be a single stab wound to the chest, puncturing the heart.
A pre-sentence report has been ordered.