NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee man who pleaded guilty to killing his former boss with a hatchet and meat cleaver was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Domenic Laurence Micheli, 41, of Nashville, was given the maximum sentence on Friday after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the June 2018 death of Joel Paavola, the owner of the Balance Training Gym in suburban Belle Meade, WZTV reported.
An investigation determined that Micheli was upset with Pavvola, who was married with five children, for firing him 14 months before the attack, WTVF reported.
“It’s something that we can’t change,” Paavola’s widow, Lana Paavola, said outside the courtroom, according to The Tennessean newspaper. “We just have to endure it.
“If we feel angry, then we’re going to be in the past. If we feel fear, we’re living in the future. So we have to live in the present, in order for us to have peace. That’s what we plan on doing.”
Friday was the last of five sentencing hearings, spread over several weeks, for Micheli, according to the newspaper.
Judge Cheryl Blackburn gave Micheli the maximum punishment. According to court records, four counts of aggravated assault against Micheli were dropped.
“This is a very, very sad situation for everyone involved,” Blackburn said while delivering the sentence.
In April 2018, Micheli escaped from the Hope Village halfway house in Washington, D.C., where he was living after being charged with trespassing at the White House, The Tennessean reported.
The halfway house did not inform authorities of Micheli’s escape until May 23, 2018. During this time, Micheli allegedly posted threatening messages on Facebook, claiming to be the “Sun of God,” according to the newspaper.
Micheli also wrote that “there will not be any mercy doled out after this post,” according to a lawsuit filed by Lana Paavola against the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections and the halfway house. Lana Paavola accused them of negligence, WZTV reported.
Less than two weeks later after his escape, Micheli walked into the gym that Joel Paavola owned. The victim was assisting a client when Micheli attacked him, according to The Tennessean.
After fleeing the scene, Micheli bought supplies at a pharmacy in Gallatin. A tip led to his arrest in Bowling Green two days later, according to the newspaper. Police found a hatchet, knife and blood inside his vehicle.
Family friend Jay Clementi said no amount of justice can ease the pain, WTVF reported.
“Lana misses her husband. His kids — his five beautiful kids miss their dad. Joel’s mom and dad miss their son — their amazing son,” Clementi said. “Everybody in this community loves him and loved him. His love and his strength will go on until everybody is off this Earth.”
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