Ajax murder turned Oshawa stand-off nets home invaders 8 to 11 years in prison

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Published January 29, 2024 at 6:46 pm

Three of the men behind a fatal home invasion in Ajax who then fled to Oshawa for a Remembrance Day police stand-off has been sentenced to 11 and a half years behind bars.

Trevor Kotzma, then 25, was one of four men who broke into the home of Maurice Fullerton, 33, on Nov. 11, 2021. According to court documents, the plan for the break-in began the evening before. Kotzma and a man referred to in the documents as “Mr. X” had been in contact throughout the evening. Over that time, Kotzma downloaded several photos of Fullerton from Facebook, and Mr. X sent him images of the home’s layout.

Also that evening one of Mr. X’s friends, Alexander Mahon-Fernandes, then 28, was at Mr. X’s home. Mahon-Fernandes complained of financial instability driven by his loss of employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. X offered to help Mahon-Fernandes financially in exchange for “a ride.” While Mahon-Fernandes believed X would cover his car payments (about $1,000). X never explicitly specified the amount of help.

The morning of Nov. 11, Mahon-Fernandes picked up Kotzma and a fourth man, Michael Rodgers, then 25, in a Dodge Charger. Mr. X was also a passenger. Kotzma and Rodgers had not previously met Mahon Fernandes. The four stopped at a convenience store and then proceeded to Fullerton’s home on Pembry Dr. They arrived around 3:45.

When they arrived near the house, Mahon-Fernandes waited in the car while the other three men walked over to the Fullerton home. Three people were inside; Fullerton and Jaclynn Murdoch on the main floor and the basement tenant Tyshon Morton.

Kotzma smashed the window in the front door, slicing open his hand. The trio stormed into the house, rousing Murdoch. She in turn woke Fullerton who went out to confront the men. When Fullerton went to confront the home invaders he was shot in the shoulder “within seconds.” The bullet entered Fullerton’s shoulder and travelled down his torso, puncturing a lung and other organs before it came to rest in his leg. Fullerton then collapsed, bleeding heavily.

Kotzma and Rodgers both testified neither brought the gun nor did they see if Fullerton had one. At the moment the gun fired, Kotzma testified X was struggling with Fullerton but he did not see the gunshot. Immediately, Kotzma grabbed Murdoch by the hair and dragged her into the basement. Downstairs Morton watched as Kotzma savagely beat Murdoch and repeatedly stomped on her face and chest.

Next Kotzma took the phones in the house and dragged Morton upstairs. X grilled Morton asking, “Where is the stuff.” Meanwhile, the other two home invaders searched the home for more than 20 minutes. During this time, Mahon-Fernandes continued to circle the block in the Charger. Several times members of the group would run out of the home and bring items they had stolen out to the car. This included cell phones, wallets, gaming systems, and jewellery.

Rodgers began to insist the men leave, but X said he “can’t leave without it…help me find it” referring to his “stick” (his gun). The trio fled the house into the car at 4:10 a.m. Emergency responders were soon called and found Fullerton and Murdoch. Fullerton succumbed to the gunshot in hospital. Murdoch suffered extensive bruising.

Shortly after 4:30 a.m. the Charger pulled into 373 Highland Ave, a detached home near Ritson Rd. and Olive Ave. Security footage captured the men bringing the stolen goods into the house and Mahon-Fernandes wiping down the car. The men settled in the living room to sort their loot. Kotzma and Rodgers both report X complaining he’d lost his “stick” and was “out $4,500.”

Meanwhile, Durham Regional Police launched their investigation and pinged Morton’s stolen phone, leading them to Highland Ave. Officers set up a perimeter around the house by 5 a.m. Mahon-Fernandes fled through a back window abandoning his car with his wallet inside.

At 5:45 a.m. a taxi left the house which was stopped by police. X and Rodgers were inside along with Fullerton’s ID, electronics, and jewellery. Kotzma stayed behind in the house and tried to convince the tenant to say he’d been there all night. He finally left the house around 7 a.m. and was swiftly arrested. Mahon-Fernandes continued going to work for a few days, changed his phone number and borrowed a car. He was arrested on Nov. 22.

Kotzma later pled guilty to assault and manslaughter, as did Rodgers. They had previously been charged with second-degree murder. Mahon-Fernandes ultimately pled guilty to robbery. A fourth man was also arrested with Kotzma and Rodgers, Devin Mandley-Byer, 22. However, he is not mentioned in the sentencing documents.

In deciding sentences Ontario courts weigh the crime against the circumstances of the offender. Kotzma, now 27, was raised in abusive home situations and ultimately became a ward of Children’s Aid. He has been homeless most of his adult life and abuses cocaine and alcohol.

Justice Michelle Fuerst describes a “dreadful” criminal record stretching from 2008 to 2022. He has more than a dozen youth convictions and 30 as an adult. A pre-sentence report found he has a “high risk to reoffend in a violent manner.”

Rodgers dropped out of high school and worked at his father’s property maintenance company. He too has an extensive criminal record which Fuerst described as “abysmal.” Both Rodgers and Kotzma were on probation when Fullerton was killed.

Conversely, Mahon-Fernandes, now 30, has no criminal record. He had a loving childhood, completed high school and found gainful employment. While Kotzma and Rodgers were held at the Central East Correctional Centre in Kawartha Lakes until trial, Mahon-Fernandes was given house arrest at his parents’ home. During his detention, he completed a diploma program from Humber College.

“In this case, Mr. Kotzma and Mr. Rodgers are being sentenced for manslaughter because Mr. Fullerton was shot and killed in the course of the home invasion, albeit neither one of them was the shooter. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment,” Fuerst explained.

Crown prosecutors and the men’s defence attornies put forward a joint submission for the men’s sentences representing a compromise between them on sentencing. For Kotzma they requested 11.5 years, for Rodgers they requested 8.5. However, the crown and defense did not agree regard Mahon-Fernandes’ sentence. The defense requested two years house arrest and the crown requested a little less than three years in jail.

Fuerst accepted the joint submission for Kotzma and Rodgers and sentenced the pair to that requested. However, she sided with neither the defense or the crown on Mahon-Fernandes. Despite his more limited involvement, role as driver and progress since his arrest, Fuerst noted his moral blameworthiness was high.”

“Motivated by greed, he chose to play a role in the planned robbery of someone else’s home. He knew that violence was a probable consequence of executing the plan, yet he participated nonetheless,” she wrote. She concluded house arrest was too lenient and sentenced Mahon-Fernandes to three years and ten months in jail. With time served he will be out in less than three years.

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