Thirty family members and friends of Luka Gordic were in B.C. Supreme Court last week to share victim impact statements in the sentencing of three people found guilty in the teen's stabbing death in Whistler during the May 2015 long weekend.
Pain, anger and bitterness laced their words, as two young men found guilty of manslaughter in Luka's death, and one convicted of second-degree murder, sat in a glassed-enclosed dock with downcast eyes.
Their identities are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act since they were all minors when the attack took place.
"I wanted to bring a picture of Luka's dead body to remind you of all what you did to him—but that wasn't permitted," said Clara Gordic, holding a photo of her 19-year-old son as she spoke.
The court heard previously that all three of the attackers had been close enough to the slain Luka to get blood on their shoes and clothes when he was swarmed by about 10 teenagers outside a village convenience store and stabbed to death during a petty dispute.
RCMP called the Gordic home in Burnaby on May 17 to say their son, who had been in Whistler for a fun May long weekend getaway, had been hurt.
Clara and husband Mitch were 10 minutes from the village when they got a second call saying Luka was dead.
"Mitch and I were hysterical," Clara told Justice Terence Schultes Friday July 27 at the end of the weeklong sentencing hearing in Vancouver. "I remember us screaming and crying."
Police, however, would not let them see their son that night, and they drove back to Burnaby with Clara weeping and clutching a pillow all the way home.
When they were finally allowed to see Luka in the morgue of a Burnaby funeral home two weeks later, Clara told the court that she held his body and wept over him for more than two hours.
The statements of aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents and friends to the court, revealed Luka to be a fun-loving, affectionate young man full of life, whose violent death has covered his family in a "dark blanket of depression."
"The person we lost was the very best of us," Mike Gordic, an uncle, said simply.
Sobs could be heard from the gallery as Luka's cousin Daniela Gordic told the court how she had run into Luka in Whistler on the night of his death.
He had kissed her on the head and told her to be safe.
A few hours later, at the Whistler RCMP detachment, an officer told her he was dead.
"I live in regret every single day knowing that I was up in Whistler and let Luka die alone," she told the court. "I'm sick to my stomach knowing his last moment and breath was spent lying in a pool of blood—I don't want to be happy anymore."
Crown prosecutor Hank Reiner read Luka's father's statement to the court, as he had been hospitalized.
"From the first breath our children take to the last breath we take, we watch, we worry, we pray," said Mitch Gordic's statement. "Our children are our flesh and blood. Their story is our story. Their dreams are our dreams. Their pain is our pain. Their death is our death. On May 17, 2015 at about 2 a.m., my life ended. My eyes were open, my heart still beating, there was breath in my lungs, and yet my life was forever gone."
The victim impact statements wrapped up a complicated sentencing hearing.
All that remains now is for Justice Schultes to decide whether he will sentence the young men as adults—something the prosecution has argued for—and what the sentences will be.
The court will reconvene in early August. From there, a date for sentencing will be set.
If sentenced as an adult, the man convicted of second-degree murder in Luka's death faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for seven years.
A fourth man, Arvin Golic, who was 18 at the time of the killing, was found guilty of manslaughter in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison.