Teen stabbed in heart over Philadelphia 76ers cap

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A killer who stabbed a teenage boy in the heart over a Philadephia 76ers cap in a “grotesquely violent” attack has been told to “rot in hell”.

Maaka Hakiwai and his older brother Nathaniel were waiting for a bus when they were set upon near their home at Kings Park in Melbourne’s northwest in September 2019.

After a trial, Maaka’s killer Joshua Horton was found guilty of manslaughter and not murder.

Horton, now 20, also stabbed Nathaniel repeatedly in the leg, inflicting life threatening injuries he survived.

“It was a brutal, grotesquely violent attack on two young boys – and they call that manslaughter,” the boys’ grandfather Alan Priester told a pre-sentence hearing in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday.

He told the court his family would never accept the verdict.

“In our eyes it was a murder,” Mr Priester said.

Emotional footage of the 17-year-old’s funeral service was played in court, with relatives and friends performing a haka as his casket was carried out.

Maaka’s paternal grandmother Yvonne Stirling delivered a heart-rending statement about the impact of the crime.

She addressed Horton’s family and refused to say the killer’s name.

“I want your boy, whose name I do not care to mention, to know his 16-second frenzied attack took Maaka’s life and scarred Nathaniel’s life forever,” she said.

She said justice would be served because “vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord”.

“I love you Maaka, you will remain forever in my heart until we meet again,” she said.

The grandmother sang in Maori after she finished reading her statement.

The brothers were heading to the gym when two young men, Chol Kur, 19, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, jumped out of a car.

They demanded Nathaniel’s baseball cap and attacked him when he refused.

As the brothers tried to fend off their attackers, Horton got out of the car with a knife he hid in a bumbag.

Maaka was in a headlock when Horton, then 19, stabbed him in the chest, later turning the blade on Nathaniel.

During the hearing, the boy’s maternal grandparents told the court about their grief of losing one grandson and the impact on his older brother.

“We are condemned to be haunted by this gruesome killing until our dying days,” Mr Priester said.

They asked for the videolinks of the accused to be taken down so they didn’t have to see them during their statements.

The boys’ great aunt Verna Goulton told the court it was a “cowardly” act the boys never saw coming.

“You can rot in hell,” she told Horton.

Horton was also found guilty of intentionally causing serious injury.

Kur and the other teenager pleaded guilty to robbery and are also facing the pre-sentence hearing, which is expected to continue in front of Justice Andrew Tinney on Tuesday.

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