A Syosset widower whose wife of nearly four decades died after a 2019 stabbing attack by their son who has autism said he believed the 16-year prison sentence a judge handed down Monday was a just ending to their family tragedy.
"It was a fair sentence," Howard Kazer said after court, while reflecting on the path he has traveled emotionally since losing his wife. "The thing is, even though this is such a horrible situation, you still have to be positive and go on with life. You can't live in that dark hole all the time ... I just try to make every day better," he said. "That's all I can do."
Kazer, 71, paid tribute to his late wife, Frances Kazer, 66, in Nassau County Court by donning the red bucket hat the teacher wore every morning in the family's Syosset Circle backyard to feed birds and other critters.
He told State Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti that son Ian Kazer's violent actions were an "unbelievable aberration."
"Ian's just like a child inside a man's body ... He doesn't have the coping skills when he gets stressed ... That led to this terrible, terrific tragedy," the older Kazer said in an interview after his 31-year-old son's sentencing on charges including manslaughter and attempted murder.
Ian Kazer stabbed his mother 47 times on March 20, 2019. He sneaked up on her in the kitchen hours after he argued with his parents about his firing from Target that day and his arrest for stealing nearly $3,000 in store gift cards.
Defense attorneys Daniel Russo and Brian Griffin convinced Delligatti at trial that the son was in the midst of an "extreme emotional disturbance" when he killed his mother, leading the judge to convict him of manslaughter instead of second-degree murder.
But the judge found that the defense failed when it came to a knifepoint attack the son unleashed on Howard Kazer when he returned home from picking up a pizza to find his wife dying.
Prosecutor Nicole Aloise argued at trial that the son was "in complete control" when he attacked his parents and that the case was "not about autism." She asked Monday for a 25-year sentence after what she said was not only an "unspeakable tragedy," but also "a horrific crime that deserves a commensurate punishment."
The Nassau district attorney's office had alleged that Ian Kazer wanted to be free from his parents' control and was resentful when he lashed out. The defendant knew that after losing his job, he'd have to rely on his parents more than ever, according to prosecutors.
But a forensic psychologist testified for the defense that Ian Kazer was "very seriously impaired" by autism and ADHD and lost control because he believed his parents were going to kick him out of the house.
Russo asked for a 10-year sentence, citing the son's lack of criminal history and mental disabilities along with Howard Kazer's wish that he have a chance to be alive when his son gets out of prison.
"The case has not only been about proving the role that Ian's mental disorder played in his actions ... It's also been about letting other family put this behind them," he said.
Ian Kazer also spoke Monday.
"I want to apologize for what I did to my Mom. I never meant to do any of this. I am very sorry. I live with this every day and it wakes me up at night," the defendant said, before apologizing to his father and his brother, Evan Kazer, 35.
Delligatti said he would strongly recommend that Kazer be kept out of general prison population and placed in a facility where he can get proper mental health treatment.