NEW YORK (AP) — Facing decades in prison after being convicted of killing a college student while watching a horror movie, Jeromie Cancel didn’t speak. He smirked.
He lolled in his courtroom chair, chortled and finally applauded as he was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life behind bars, amid anguished speeches and angry outbursts from victim Kevin Pravia’s family.
“See you in hell — in hell!” the slain Pace University sophomore’s father, Kevin Pravia Sr., shouted from the audience as Cancel was led out of a Manhattan courtroom.
Cancel had gotten the maximum possible sentence from a judge who called his apparently remorseless attitude “chilling and inhuman.”
“I don’t think you even understand the basic notion of mercy,” state Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald told him, “so you’ll get none from me.”
Cancel, 24, was convicted last month of murdering Pravia in the student’s apartment in August 2008. Cancel told police he killed the student out of boredom.
Cancel was homeless at the time. Pravia was a 19-year-old from the small town of Peru, Mass. They crossed paths as Pravia was heading home from a night out.
Plotting a robbery to get money to buy drugs, Cancel exploited Pravia’s drunkenness to get invited to the student’s apartment, prosecutors said.
After Pravia fell asleep, Cancel gathered the student’s laptop computer and other electronics to steal — and then decided to kill him because he was bored, Cancel told police. Smoking a cigarette and watching what he thought was the horror hit “Saw,” Cancel choked Pravia with an electric cord, he told police.
The film actually was the equally gruesome “Hostel,” prosecutors said. But Cancel got a “Saw”-related tattoo in prison, according to testimony at his trial — a tattoo that Pravia’s mother, Paula, branded on Wednesday a hideous ‘trophy for the brutal murder of my son.”
From a podium and in a letter read by prosecutors, Pravia’s relatives and friends called Cancel a “monster” and decried his bravado.
Hearing Cancel chuckle at one point, Pravia’s younger brother, Michael, leaped to his feet and lashed out at Cancel from the courtroom audience.
“I’ll end you,” the brother vowed before court officers ushered him out of the room.
Cancel’s lawyer, Michael Alpertstein, noted that the 24-year-old has a long history of emotional and psychological problems, including suicide attempts starting when he was 10, according to testimony at his trial. Alperstein asked the judge to consider that “unlike Mr. Pravia, (Cancel) has a life in front of him.”
An honors student at Pace, Pravia had aspired to open a clothing store in New York someday, his mother said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)