A North York teen pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the stabbing death of another teen in Wasaga Beach on a long weekend two years ago.
Austin Zambrano-Peterson, now 20, of North York, was 18 when he was charged along with two of his teen friends with the second-degree murder of Francesco Molinaro, 18, of Bolton. In court Friday, July 20, he stood in the prisoner’s box and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter as well as robbery.
Court heard that Zambrano-Peterson was not the one who brandished the knife but played a role in the death.
The two men bumped into each other on the night of May 21, 2016, outside of the Pizza Pizza in Wasaga Beach and began punching each other.
Two of Zambrano-Peterson’s friends, 18 and 19, allegedly joined in the fight and started punching Molinaro. One of Zambrano-Peterson’s friends pulled out a knife and stabbed Molinaro seven times in the back and side, court heard. As he lay mortally wounded, the three men ran off.
An ambulance arrived almost immediately, but Molinaro died on the way to the hospital.
Police had all three teens under surveillance before they were arrested. Unaware that police were watching him, two weeks after Molinaro died Zambrano-Peterson wore a disguise and robbed a man in Oshawa.
In court, members of Molinaro’s family wept and read victim impact statements expressing their grief. He was described as a man with a wonderful smile and a big heart.
His mother told the judge she has received a life sentence and nothing will bring her son back.
Standing in the prisoner’s box in handcuffs, wearing a blue dress shirt, his neck covered with tattoos, Zambrano-Peterson was asked by the judge if he had anything to say but quietly declined to comment.
Justice Cary Boswell said there is no sentence that can take away the pain and grief that the Molinaro family is suffering.
“They are permanently scarred,” said the judge. “A young man lost his life. It doesn’t get worse than that.”
Two other accused are charged with second-degree murder and their case is still before the court.
Accused teen killer in court
A Barrie man made a brief appearance in court to face a charge of first-degree murder of a 14-year-old boy who was stabbed to death 12 years ago.
The man, now 28, was 16 when he allegedly killed the teen in a wooded area of Barrie March 9, 2006.
In 2010 he was found guilty of murder by a jury and sentenced to life in prison following a three-month trial, but the Ontario Court of Appeal struck the verdict and ordered a new trial.
The high court stated the youth was wrongfully arrested and not given his rights according the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The court ordered the case back for a new trial.
The victim’s mother sat in court and saw the man accused of killing her son, now a grown man, for the first time in several years.
There is a ban on publication on all identities as both the victim and accused were youths at the time.
No trial date has yet been set.
A Bradford man charged with murdering his wife made a brief appearance in court Thursday, July 19.
Jose Fernandes, 57, stands charged with the first-degree murder of his 49-year-old wife, Maria Fernandes, in November 2015.
Police arrested him at his home on Colborne Street where they found his wife stabbed to death. He is expected back in court in August.