Aysun Sesen was 25, “full of life” and ecstatic that she was about to give birth to her first child when her husband, Turan Cocelli, suddenly grabbed a large kitchen knife and stabbed her repeatedly.
She fought desperately as her mother-in-law, Ayse Cocelli, intervened, trying to stop her son’s murderous rage.
The couple, who were experiencing serious marital problems, had been discussing baby names in their home at the time of the savage attack on Oct. 2, 2007.
Sesen died in hospital. Doctors performed a Caesarean section but could not save the fetus. Sesen was more than seven months pregnant.
Last month, after a trial that focused almost exclusively on Cocelli’s undisputed mental illness, a Superior Court jury convicted him of second-degree murder, rejecting the defence argument that he was not criminally responsible. Cocelli was also convicted of aggravated assault of his mother. She received cuts to her wrist and hand and has undergone surgery three times.
The verdict meant the 31-year-old labourer was automatically sentenced to life imprisonment and two years, to be served concurrently, for the aggravated assault of his mother. Justice Gary Trotter was left to determine the parole ineligibility period at a sentencing hearing Wednesday.
“Nothing I can do today can repair this damage,” Trotter said before imposing a parole ineligibility period of 12 years.
The seriously aggravating factor in this case was the vulnerability of the victim, the judge said. She was in an advanced stage of her pregnancy, had been feeling unwell and was less able to defend herself, Trotter said.
Cocelli’s mental disorder, the fact he is a first offender with no history of violence toward his wife or anyone else, were other mitigating factors he considered, the judge said.
Crown attorney Tracey Vogel had recommended Cocelli become eligible to apply for parole after serving 13 and a half years in prison. His lawyer, Aaron Wine, suggested he serve a minimum 10 years, noting nine of the jurors had also recommended the minimum.
Asked by the judge if he had anything to say, Cocelli whispered a few words to Wine. “He has nothing to say but indicated he is incredibly sad about what has happened and what he did,” Wine told Trotter.
In 2002, Cocelli had been diagnosed with systemic vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels and, as a result, suffered from depression and had difficulties conceiving a child. Sesen became pregnant through artificial insemination.
Trotter stated there was overwhelming evidence during the trial that Cocelli suffers from mental illness, noting that “was clear to all of us” when he testified. “He said gangsters had given him mental candies.” Trotter recommended Cocelli continue to receive mental health treatment for what he expects will be a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Members of both families were in court and submitted victim impact statements that they declined to read.