Early morning is when Darlene Sudds misses her son the most.
“Every day when I wake up, I think about Matthew,” Sudds said Saturday. “He used to call me 15 to 20 times a day. We were very, very close. I miss his practical jokes and how he loved to tease.”
She was a single mother and Matthew Sudds was her only child. The pair had been living together on Parkland Drive in Halifax when he was murdered on Oct. 10, 2013.
“I had him when I was very young and it was only ever him and me,” said Sudds.
On Saturday in Halifax, almost six years after the killing, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury found Ricardo Jerrel Whynder, 34, guilty of second-degree murder.
Jurors began deliberating Friday and resumed Saturday morning. At about 2 p.m., they announced the verdict, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.
“The Crown worked hard and did a great job,” said Darlene Sudds, who was in the courtroom and flanked by family members when the jury of six men and six women announced its decision.
“I’m relieved and very happy with the outcome and wondering when it’s going to really hit me.”
A sentencing hearing will be held Nov. 22 to determine how many years — somewhere between 10 and 25 — Whynder has to serve before he’s eligible to apply for parole.
Justice Denise Boudreau ordered a presentence report and a cultural assessment for her consideration.
The Crown did not put forth a motive during the three-week trial and told the jury one wasn’t required to secure a murder conviction.
Darlene Sudds isn’t convinced of a motive. All she knows is that her son and the man convicted of killing him were not getting along in the days before the killing.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” she said. “It was just such a senseless tragedy.”
Whynder stood trial on a charge of first-degree murder.
The Crown argued Whynder worked in concert with a man named Devlin Glasgow to commit the planned and deliberate murder of Matthew Sudds, 24.
Through text messages and phone calls, Whynder set up a meeting with Sudds at the Burger King parking lot at the corner of Young Street and Kempt Road in Halifax.
Upon arriving at the location by taxi, Sudds got into the front seat of a black Dodge Charger that had been rented by a female associate of Whynder. Sudds was then driven to Africville Road in north-end Halifax, where he was shot to death and his body left in an overgrown ditch.
A passerby discovered the body four days later, on Oct. 14.
Ultimately, the jury must not have been convinced that the evidence presented by the Crown met the standard of planning and deliberation required for a first-degree murder conviction.
Rick Woodburn, who prosecuted the case with Sean McCarroll, said he was pleased with the verdict.
“It was a team effort between us and our policing partners,” Woodburn said. “Second-degree murder was always on the table. The jury did a fantastic job going through a very tough case.
“But there’s no happiness here. Two families lost a son, brother, cousin. When one person commits a murder, there’s a ripple effect.”
Jesse Boddy, Sudds’ half-brother, was on hand for Saturday’s verdict. He said he was terrified Whynder would be found not guilty.
“I wanted first-degree ... but I can live with this,” Boddy said. “I lost my only big brother. We were very close and he was the person I went to when I needed somebody. He was someone who always looked out for his family and friends.”
Defence lawyer Trevor McGuigan said he was disappointed by the verdict. He said his client should have been acquitted and will consider an appeal.
“There is just so much that is unknown and unproven about what Mr. Whynder actually did, if anything, to cause Mr. Sudds’ death,” McGuigan said. “In my view, this was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
“There was no direct forensic evidence that implicated him in committing the murder. I don’t think it’s the correct outcome. The evidence was circumstantial. It connected him to the scene, his presence when the murder occurred, but that’s as far as it went in our view.”
But Woodburn took issue with the defence lawyer’s claim that the evidence didn’t support a second-degree murder conviction.
“There was plenty of evidence, both circumstantial and direct,” the prosecutor said.
Woodburn referred specifically to evidence of Whynder calling the province’s Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program in March 2017. During the call, which was made from British Columbia, Whynder said he was in the vehicle around the time of the killing.
“There are also telephone calls back and forth leading up to (the murder), the rental of the Dodge Charger, lying to police,” said Woodburn. “There’s a multitude of evidence that led us to the verdict of second-degree murder.”
In 2002, Whynder recived a sentence of seven years and nine months in prison for the shooting of a Halifax-area taxi driver. Whynder was 17 at the time of the shooting but was tried as an adult.
While in prison, he was convicted of aggravated assault for stabbing another inmate with a shank. He was also convicted of assaulting two guards.
Whynder was released from prison in the spring of 2013.
“He got out and within (a few) months he was responsible for my brother’s death,” said Boddy. “I have a huge issue with the justice system. My brother should never have been murdered.”
with Steve Bruce