Maki to be sentenced tomorrow

Doug Maki, whose first-degree murder trial took a dramatic turn Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the death of Melani Sutton almost two years ago, will be sentenced here Thursday morning.
Maki, 29, will appear in court at 10 a.m.
Second-degree murder carries a life sentence. What will be determined Thursday is how many years he will have to serve before being eligible for parole.
Tuesday’s sudden development, coming on the second day of a scheduled three-week trial, occurred when Maki’s lawyer, Gil Labine, told Senior Regional Justice Terrance Platana that he had had some “extensive discussions with my client and his family.”
“And my client is prepared to plead guilty to second-degree murder,” he added.
Maki had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Monday before jury selection began. Eventually, seven men and five women were chosen.
Court was recessed for two-and-a-half hours. When the jury was called in at 3 p.m., they agreed to the guilty verdict.
Their decision came after Crown Attorney Robert “Buster” Young read the facts upon which Maki’s plea of guilty was based—a step-by-step account of the investigation in Sutton’s death.
On March 10, 2000, Sutton, 18, was starting a new job at Robin’s Donuts here. She was to work until 9 p.m., after which she was going to go to a house party at a King’s Highway residence.
There, she had been drinking rye and Coke.
Maki, who was somewhat older than most in attendance, arrived with a male friend. They had been seen drinking beer and smoking marijuana while at the party.
During the party, Maki had been seen socializing with Sutton. At one point, Maki said he was going to a party in Atikokan and left with a friend to get his own car at the Lakeview Trailer Court.
He found Sutton at the Robin’s Donuts outlet on King’s Highway, where she was buying a cappuccino. Staff there reported she obviously had been drinking.
The three proceeded to the trailer park, where Maki picked up his vehicle and parted ways with his male friend. He was next seen at 4:17 a.m. on March 11 at the Mohawk gas station, where Sutton was reported to be sitting in the front passenger seat.
Maki was next seen later that morning travelling westbound on Highway 11, near the junction of Highway 502.
No one had seen Sutton at all on March 11, and the next day Maki was receiving phone calls regarding her whereabouts. He said he had dropped her off at the Robin’s Donuts location on Scott Street and then went to the party in Atikokan.
Maki was later interviewed by police about his whereabouts that morning. He said he went home, but was denied access by his common-law wife. He added he then stayed at another friend’s house, which the friend later confirmed to police.
Maki reportedly had been seen cleaning and vacuuming his car that day.
A “major breakthrough” for police, said Crown Attorney Young, was on March 26—while Sutton was still missing—when three people asked to meet with the OPP.
One woman, who lived at the residence where Maki allegedly had stayed after returning from the party on March 11, told police she hadn’t seen him that day but the day after, at which time he told her to tell others he had stayed there.
As well, Maki met with a male friend late at night on March 17 and asked if “he was his friend and would do anything.” The male responded, “Is there a body?” at which point Maki said yes.
Maki drew a sketch showing the location of the body but after the male refused to help him, Maki left with the sketch.
Following a widespread search by police, Sutton’s body was found March 28, concealed in leaves and branches off a bush road about 80 km east of town.
A post mortem showed she had a deep laceration to her anterior neck and jugular vein, a fracture on the left side of her skull, contusions to the brain, and a fractured nose and facial bones.
She died from excessive blood loss.
Police found cigarette butts at the scene and after a DNA analysis, found they had Maki and Sutton’s DNA on them.
Maki was arrested and charged April 4—the same day which police had found his car parked in a barn in the country. A small bloodstain discovered in the vehicle was later found to match that of Sutton’s.
“He does not deny he is the sole actor in the death of Melani Sutton,” noted Crown Attorney Young, a point which Maki’s lawyer, Gil Labine, agreed with.
The jury left the court room and then re-entered after it posed one question to counsel—the case appears to be so good, why is the Crown agreeing to settle with a second-degree murder charge and not push for first-degree.
“Specific elements of the Criminal Code have to be met. The Crown, in this case, wisely decided the case did not have the evidence to raise the charge,” responded Justice Platana.
The jury returned minutes later with their verdict.
“It was a difficult case in that, at first, it was a missing person’s case, and then police had to explore all the leads and track down where she was,” Crown Attorney Young said after the verdict.
“Even after the body was found, there was a lot of expert evidence—DNA profiling, pathological evidence. There was even different types of DNA that was obtained,” he added.
Outside the courthouse, it was a visibly emotional scene, with friends and family of the victim’s family crying and exchanging hugs. Sutton’s father, John, gave only one comment: “I just wish this country had the [expletive deleted] death penalty.”
In the meantime, the family has been invited to make a victim’s impact statement prior to Thursday’s sentencing.
Counsel also will be meetng to clear up other matters, such as any other charges Maki may be facing. Crown Attorney Young declined to comment as to what these charges might be.