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Conception Bay South man was beaten, stabbed, left for dead

Paul Connolly, who pleaded guilty to charges including manslaughter in connection with the 2016 death of Steven Miller, was back Friday in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's, where the agreed statement of facts in the case were presented to Justice Donald Burrage.
Paul Connolly, who pleaded guilty to charges including manslaughter in connection with the 2016 death of Steven Miller, was back Friday in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's, where the agreed statement of facts in the case were presented to Justice Donald Burrage. - Rosie Mullaley

Judge in Paul Connolly's case hears details of how he and two others carried out deadly home invasion

They called it a "drug rip."

After binging on drugs and booze on a summer night two years ago, Paul Connolly, Calvin Kenny and Chesley Lucas together devised a plan to do a home invasion to steal drugs.

It ended with one man, 25-year-old Steven Miller, found dead on a driveway in a normally quiet residential neighbourhood — having been the victim of a savage beating and frenzied stabbing — a house and van gutted by fire, and three men behind bars.

Details of what happened at a Conception Bay South home on July 30, 2016, that led to Miller's death and the intruders' arrest were outlined in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's Friday when Connolly's case was called.

Connolly – who had initially been charged with murder – pleaded guilty to the lesser and included charge of manslaughter, as well as robbery, unlawful confinement, breaching probation and two counts of breaching a recognizance.

According to the agreed statement of facts, read in court by Crown prosecutor Tannis King, Connolly, Kenny and Lucas were at Kyle Morgan's house in Paradise when they decided to force their way into a house at 1625 C.B.S. Highway.

At 4:06 a.m., they arrived at the house in a van. Dressed in black clothes and masks, they kicked in the front and rear doors. Kenny and Lucas were armed with guns and knives.

Miller was in his bedroom, while a woman – his brother Kyle Miller's girlfriend - was in her bedroom across the hall. Kyle Miller was out of town at the time.

The three intruders went to Miller's room. Upon seeing them, Miller said, "I know who you are. What do you want?" An altercation followed and Miller was dragged from his room to the hallway. He was held down by Connolly and Lucas while Kenny assaulted him. The woman heard one of the men ask Miller if he wanted to die. At one point, one of the men said, "Shoot him."

Miller was stabbed several times. Kenny and Connolly were also stabbed several times. Lucas was uninjured. The men told Miller they were taking him and that they would get medical attention for him.

Kenny and Connolly dragged Miller to the van, while Kenny poured gasoline around the living room of the house. The woman begged him to stop, but he refused. Kenny lit the couch on fire. Within minutes, the house was engulfed in flames. Lucas left the house and got in the van, leaving the woman behind. The woman ran out of the house.

After leaving the house and while in the van in the driveway, Connolly, gasping for air due to his injuries, called 911, stating, "1625 C.B.S. Highway, 1625 C.B.S. Highway, please." Kenny, Lucas and Connolly then left in the van with Miller.

At 4:09 a.m., there was another call to 911 and several men can be heard yelling and there sounded like there was a struggle. A man said, "shut the f--- down and talk to me. We are going to bring you to the hospital. … You got stabbed in the heart, come on."

Four minutes later, a nearby RNC officer responded to the call. Along the way, he spotted the woman, who told him what happened.

Using Miller's phone, Kenny called 911 a few minutes later, telling the dispatcher that he saw a guy lying on the side of the road on Mario Street in Paradise and stopped to try to save his life. Miller can be heard in the backkground groaning in pain. There is no Mario Street in Paradise, meaning first responders could not find them, despite efforts by police to track the cellphone subscriber information.

Miller's body was found on the driveway of 46 Bayview Heights at 8:16 a.m. by residents.

After the men had left Miller in Bayview Heights, the van was taken to a secluded wooded area off the Foxtrap Access Road and lit on fire. ATV riders later reported to police that they had seen the men setting it ablaze.

Morgan then picked up Connolly, Kenny and Lucas nearby and took them back to his Paradise house, where they tried to patch Connolly's injuries using paper towels and duct tape.

Morgan and Lucas then took Connolly to the end of a nearby road. Morgan called 911 seeking assistance for Connolly, who was taken by ambulance to hospital.

Meanwhile, RNC officers determined that items inside the burned van belonged to Miller, which the men had taken from the house.

Chief medical examiner Dr. Simon Avis performed an autopsy and determined Miller died from blood loss due to stab wounds, which were found all over his body. Miller also had several lacerations, abrasions and blunt force wounds. The most significant injury was a stab would to his upper right chest that was six centimetres long. While reading the facts, it took King a while to list all the wounds found in various areas of Miller's body.

In the days following Miller's death, police searched the house. While it was fire-damaged, officers found spatters of his blood in separate areas of the house. A buck knife with Miller's blood on the blade was also located in the basement crawlspace. Kenny's DNA was found on the handle. Another buck knife was found in the driveway, along with a quantity of marijuana at the base of the front porch steps and a long-barrel air gun in Miller's bedroom.

A search of the house yielded a quantity of pills, white powder consistent with cocaine and a substantial quantity of marijuana, as well as large sums of cash.

While in hospital, Connolly admitted to police his involvement in the home invasion and robbery that led to Miller's death.

Morgan pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to manslaughter and last year was sentenced to a one-year prison term.

Kenny and Lucas also pleaded guilty to manslaughter, along with robbery, forcible confinement and arson last year and were each given 12 1/2-year prison terms by provincial court judge Colin Flynn, despite the fact that their lawyers had presented a joint recommendation for 7 1/2 years in jail.

Their lawyers have filed appeals.

In Connolly's case, defence lawyers Jeff Brace and Mark Gruchy said they must await the outcome of that appeal before having a sentencing hearing. King and co-counsel Richard Deveau, along with Justice Donald Burrage, all agreed.

Connolly's case will be called again Feb. 26, 2019, when a date will be set for his sentencing hearing.

Rosie.mullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyRosie

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