MALONE A remorseful and sobbing Dale Jarvis Jr. of Chateaugay was sentenced Friday to 15 years in state prison for killing his father, putting an end to a case that attorneys on both sides said was one of the most unusual and difficult of their careers.
Jarvis, 24, pleaded guilty in September to first-degree manslaughter, admitting that he killed his father sometime around Feb. 21 by hitting him in the back of the head with a sledgehammer after the two began arguing over the volume of the video game that the son was playing.
It was revealed Friday in Franklin County Court that Jarvis told police the two had used cocaine together before the argument. Jarvis buried his father in a garden behind his home at 14 White St., Chateaugay, using a backhoe. He said in an October letter to the editor that he even attempted to build his father a coffin.
The body was found in July by a state police forensic investigation team. Mr. Jarviss personal effects, including his wallet, cellphone and personal documents, were found buried about 11 feet down at a second site on the property.
There isnt a day that goes by that I dont regret everything Ive lost in my life, Jarvis said before being sentenced. I wish it had occurred to me to tell somebody what was going on a long time ago. I want to say Im sorry to my wife that I cant take care of the kids. I wish I could say Im sorry, Dad. ... I wish I could say I love you.
About 10 family members attended the emotional sentencing. Jarvis and his attorney, county Public Defender Thomas G. Soucia, could not hold back tears as they addressed Judge Robert G. Main Jr.
Mr. Soucia said he became physically ill after reading the presentence investigation, which included several letters from family members beseeching the judge to be lenient. Mr. Soucia and District Attorney Derek P. Champagne said the letters made numerous detailed allegations that Mr. Jarvis Sr. was abusive and neglectful, causing his son to develop severe emotional and social problems.
I feel sorry for my client; I worry about him, Mr. Soucia told the court. I know prisons not going to be very easy for him.
Its the first time Ive had information that painted the victim in a not-so-nice light, Mr. Champagne said. Its a unique situation that I have not come across in 13 years as district attorney.
Mr. Soucia said he has previous connections with the Jarvis family his father and Jarvis Jr.s grandfather, Maynard Jarvis of Churubusco, worked together at the McCadam cheese plant in Chateaugay.
I know his grandfather is a good man. ... He attempted to help him throughout the course of his life, Mr. Soucia said.
Judge Main, who appeared close to tears himself as Jarvis spoke, said that although it appears Jarvis was warped by his fathers abuse, he must be held accountable for taking a human life.
The defendants criminal history suggests a willingness to put his own interests ahead of those of others; victims in particular, society in general, Judge Main said. Jarviss prior arrests include charges of criminal contempt, violation of an order of protection and attempted burglary.
On the other hand, the judge gave him credit for cooperating with prosecutors.
The defendant, to his credit, has admitted and acknowledged what he did, the judge said. As part of his guilty plea, Jarvis gave up his right to have his case heard by a grand jury and go to trial.
Both attorneys said they think the case ended about as well as it could have.
I think its fair, Mr. Soucia said. Im happy with the outcome.
Mr. Champagne said he agrees with Judge Mains assertion that although it is a sad case, the court has an obligation to ensure public safety.
Taking another persons life is the most significant crime we face as a society, and there needs to be accountability, he said.