Minimum sentence for killers of Michael Valentine
Three men who killed a Levin man, after an alleged dispute over a computer hard-drive and someone urinating on a toothbrush, have all been given minimum sentences of imprisonment for their parts in the killing.
Stoyan Militch, 32, Brayden Windley, 23, and Michael Paul Zimmerman, 30, were sentenced in the High Court at Palmerston North this morning for their roles in the killing of Michael Les Valentine.
Valentine was 27 when he was stabbed once in the chest outside his rural Levin home on February 1 last year.
He bled out on his lawn after being stabbed by Militch with a butcher's knife.
His three killers were initially put on trial earlier this year charged with murder, but all pleaded guilty to manslaughter one week into the trial after the Crown decided it was the appropriate charge.
Militch was given the largest sentence - eight years and four months, with a minimum term of five years.
Zimmerman was given seven years, while Windley got five years, and both must serve half their sentences.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Deborah Davies said the killing took place following grievances Zimmerman and Windley had with Valentine's fiancee, Elizabeth Ham.
Windley was wound up because Ham had taken a hard-drive of his, while Zimmerman was angry because she had held his toothbrush in front of someone who was urinating into a toilet.
That was confirmed in the agreed summary of facts the three killers pleaded guilty to.
Militch, Windley and Zimmerman were also sentenced on a charge each of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, which they all pleaded guilty to before the trial.
Justice Ronald Young said the death of Valentine was over arguments almost anyone would have resolved differently.
"These events occurred out of trivial matters.
"People with even the smallest amount of sense would have resolved it without violence."
Zimmerman and Militch both had partners - Zimmerman a wife - and three children each at the time they killed Valentine.
"Did you not give them thought at all?'' the judge said.
All three were given different sentences because of their varying roles in Valentine's death.
Militch was given the heaviest sentence as he was the person who stabbed Valentine, the judge said.
He had only given the slightest indication of remorse, and had a history of violent offending.
Zimmerman was the person most responsible for the three of them going to Valentine's house, and he was also the person who invited Militch along.
However, the judge said he had no significant involvement at the scene.
Windley had shown the most remorse since the stabbing, the judge said.
He also handed himself into police and helped them find the knife, which had been thrown from the window of a car while the killers fled the scene.