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Family torn apart by murder

By Keith Lacey Members of Paul Kuchma's family told a hushed courtroom how their father, brother and grandfather's senseless, violent death has torn them apart.
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By Keith Lacey

Members of Paul Kuchma's family told a hushed courtroom how their father, brother and grandfather's senseless, violent death has torn them apart.

Crystale Belanger, 18, was given a 42-month penitentiary sentence after pleading guilty Tuesday to stabbing Kuchma, 67, once in the heart last March 16.

It was revealed in an agreed statement of fact that Belanger, who was addicted to hard drugs and alcohol at the time, was an acquaintance of Kuchma's son Kevin.

She showed up at the senior's apartment to party and had performed oral sex on him in the hours before his death.

Court also heard how the knife Belanger used to kill Kuchma was used with such force the 20-centimetre blade penetrated his chest cavity.

Kuchma's daughter Karen told Justice Ian Gordon and the court through a victim impact statement how Belanger's violent act has devastated their entire family.

No sentence imposed against the accused can bring back their father or alleviate the pain and suffering they've all felt the past 13 months, she said. "You took from me the only father I ever knew...you took from my children the grandfather they loved so much," she said.

Her father had a life "which had meaning, vibrancy and purpose" and his death leaves a large gaping hole in the lives of all those who loved him, she said.

"I pray God may grant Crystal the serenity to live with what she has done," she said.

While she was reading her victim impact statement, Belanger lost her composure and started to sob as she buried her head in her hands.

Paul Kuchma's twin sister told the court how she and her brother shared the burden of taking care of their mother, age 90, who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease.

Despite his death more than a year ago, she "still can't believe he's gone," she said.

One of Kuchma's daughters wrote that dealing with death is always difficult, but beyond comprehension when a kind, loving father is taken so senselessly and violently.

"I don't believe God is done with you....I hope you become a good person...and I hope God can forgive you because right now I can't," she said. "May God be with you when you sit down and realize what you have done."

Kuchma's son Todd told the court "life has little meaning for me now that my father is gone" as his father was his primary support system and guidance counsellor in life, he said. He wanted Belanger to know how much damage her act has caused to every person who loved his father.



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