Emerson "John" Tohafjian said little upon entering the Seneca County courthouse Friday. The only words directed to him as he entered Judge Richard Healy's courtroom came from his father.
"I love you, son," Carl Tohafjian, Sr. said twice, as the 48-year-old Fayette man took his seat.
Tohafjian was sentenced for what the judge called a "cold-blooded execution" of his ex-girlfriend and another man, and the serious wounding of a third person.
After an hour of testimony from the family of victim Lori McConnell and arguments from defense attorneys that the guilty verdict against Tohafjian should be vacated, Judge Healy delivered four life without parole sentences for the first-degree murder counts against Tohafjian. Healy also delivered maximum sentences on 14 other counts for which the jury found him guilty.
It convicted Tohafjian of the ambush-style attack on McConnell, Charles Andrus and Karen Zdunko on Virginia Street in Waterloo back on July 11, 2018.
Prosecutors argued the shootings were meant to silence a rape case involving an alleged attack by Tohafjian against McConnell.
"He is selfish and violent and will always hurt women," McConnell's son, Matthew VanDoren said. "He is a coward and will always target people he thinks he's stronger than."
Both McConnell's son and daughter told the court Tohafjian was a monster who, through physical, emotional and sexual abuse, reduced the strongest person they knew to pure fear.
"She wanted to be alone, because if he was going to come after her, she didn't want him to hurt any of us or any of her friends,” Lauren Bennett said.
Zdunko, the lone survivor of Tohafjian's attack, stared him down as she made the case for his penalty.
"Well John, you really did it. The only person who treated you like a friend, and you gunned her down in cold blood,” she said.
Tohafjian's defense team claimed again Friday no evidence directly tied him to the killings. Judge Healy rejected their call to set aside the verdict and delivered the maximum sentence on all 18 counts.
"This court is not going to allow a parole board to decide your fate," Healy said.
More than 60 family and friends of the victims in the case applauded when the judge delivered the sentences.
Tohafjian chose silence when offered the chance to speak. His attorneys plan to appeal his conviction.