A man who killed his older brother last year in Stafford County for reasons not even he can explain was ordered Friday to spend the rest of his life in prison.
W. Jackson Veronee, 23, who earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, killed 33-year-old Christopher Veronee on Feb. 5 last year at the older Veronee’s home on Holly Drive. The victim was shot 10 times.
Jackson Veronee had called his brother less than two weeks earlier and asked him for a place to stay because he had nowhere else to go. Christopher Veronee sent his brother a bus ticket and agreed to help him overcome substance abuse and other issues.
Instead, Veronee’s kindness was repaid by an inexplicable hail of bullets. Jackson Veronee, who has a different mother, was again unable to explain Friday why he did it.
“I wish I could make sense of all this,” Veronee said in Stafford Circuit Court just before Judge Charles Sharp announced the life sentence. “Chris was a great brother who didn’t deserve this. I’m truly sorry.”
Sharp’s judgment came at the end of an emotional sentencing hearing that featured gut-wrenching testimony from family members and friends still clearly tormented by the slaying.
The sentence was in line with a request from Christopher Veronee’s mother, Robynn Taylor, who said that her son’s brother “does not deserve to breathe free air again.
“I pray that God will have mercy on you, but that the court will not,” she said.
According to the evidence presented by prosecutors Amy Casey and Sandra Park, there was no indication of any turmoil between the brothers prior to the slaying. They had watched the Super Bowl together the night before.
After Christopher Veronee left for work the next morning, according to the evidence, his brother put in action a plan for his demise.
He loaded his brother’s gun, packed a getaway bag and fired several practice shots. Park said he then laid in wait and “unloaded the clip” on Christopher Veronee after he returned home.
Jackson Veronee then rummaged through his dead brother’s pockets and took his wallet before leaving in his brother’s truck.
Andy Veronee, the father of both men, said he had warned his older son that his brother might be too much for him to handle.
The father said he also told Christopher Veronee that if he was going to take him in, he needed to get rid of his gun. The father said he wasn’t worried that Jackson Veronee would hurt his brother or anyone else, but that he might hurt himself. The younger brother had a history of suicide attempts.
After killing his brother, Jackson Veronee headed toward Memphis, Tenn., where he had a girlfriend at the time. But the stolen truck broke down on Interstate 81 in Roanoke and he ended up in a homeless shelter there.
A shelter worker noticed a marijuana scent coming from his backpack, and someone called police after looking inside and seeing a gun. Veronee spontaneously blurted out that he’d used the gun to kill his brother the previous day in Stafford.
Stafford deputies went to the residence and found Christopher Veronee dead in an upstairs living room.
Person after person took the witness stand Friday to extol Christopher Veronee’s virtues and the positive effect he’d had on their lives. At least five of them referred to the victim as their best friend.
“There is a huge piece missing in my life,” said Matthew Tiani. “It’s a bond that can never be replaced and the pain is going to last a lifetime.”
Prosecutors pushed for the life sentence. “This is a case that calls for life in prison,” Park said. “It was as premeditated as it was senseless.”
Defense attorney Kristin Kadar pleaded for a sentence within the recommended state sentencing guidelines, which called for a prison term of between 23 years, nine months and 39 years, seven months.
Kadar argued that Jackson Veronee is “redeemable” and that his actions that day clearly didn’t spring from a sound mind.
Sharp, a longtime judge, said it was one of the most “heartbreaking” sentencing hearings he’d ever sat through and “the image of you rummaging through your dead brother’s pockets is appalling.”
The judge added that the idea of a brother killing his brother is “as atrocious today as it was in the days of Cain and Abel.”