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Man sentenced in Sudbury for 1998 Renee Sweeney murder

After being found guilty of second-degree murder in March in the brutal 1998 stabbing death of Renee Sweeney in Sudbury, Robert Steven Wright received his sentence Thursday morning.

Renee Sweeney was a 23-year-old student at Laurentian University who worked as a part-time clerk at Adults Only Video. She was stabbed to death while working at the store sometime between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 27, 1998. (File)

The murder conviction has an automatic life sentence, but Justice Robbie Gordon was tasked with determining when Wright will be eligible for parole.

Gordon ruled Wright, 43, will be eligible for parole after serving 12 years.

The range for second-degree murder is 10 to 25 years. The defence had asked for 10, the Crown 18 and jury members each recommended parole eligibility between 20 to 25 years.

Wright has been in jail since his arrest in North Bay on Dec. 11, 2018, and will receive credit for time served in pre-sentencing custody.

In his decision, Gordon said he considered parity to other offenders sentenced to the same crime and that the sentence cannot be based on emotion or vengeance.

He said the defensive wounds Sweeney suffered made it clear to him that she fought for a life that shouldn't have been taken from her and that she was a gifted young woman who had a lot to offer the world.

Gordon said he considered the viciousness of her attack while working alone in a retail store, but also that Wright has been a law-abiding citizen and contributing member of society with no other interaction with the criminal justice system before.

As part of his sentence, Wright will be prohibited from firearms and DNA taken for the national DNA data bank.

Following the sentencing hearing, Sweeney's sister Kim provided a written statement to CTV News about the decision.

"I would have hoped that he would have been sentenced to so much more time considering what he did to her. It wasn't until the trial that I learned exactly what had happened to her and how she fought and suffered. Not only that but to hide in plain sight for 20 years," Kim Sweeney's statement said.

"That being said, I am forever grateful to this wonderful community that I call home. You have never forgotten my sister Renée. To the many, many officers who spend (sic) the 20 years finding him and the following five years of work since his arrest. The Crowns, upfront and behind the scenes, who have worked so hard to make sure he never step (sic) foot outside of jail since his arrest and lead him to conviction of this cold-blooded murder, because that is what it was … cold and senseless!"

She went on to thank victim's services for helping her get through the "hardest time in my life and guide me through the process."

"This process is finally over, but the pain of losing Renée will never go away. Knowing that there is finally justice for my sister makes it just a little easier," Kim said. has been inside the courtroom for the entire trial, find previous coverage here.

Sketch of Robert Steven Wright on witness stand as he is cross-examined by the Crown attorney during his murder trial in a Sudbury courtroom March 14. Wright's second-degree murder trial was delayed again Monday due to COVID-19. (Sudbury artist Tarun Godara)


The brutal stabbing death of 23-year-old Renee Sweeney rocked the City of Sudbury to its core on Jan. 27, 1998.

Police searched for her killer for two decades and finally charged Robert Steven Wright, who was 18 years old at the time of the murder. He has been held in jail since his arrest in Dec. 2018.

After several delays, the trial began Feb. 21, 2023, just after the 25th anniversary of Sweeney's death.

The jury convicted Wright of second-degree murder on March 29 after deliberating for a little more than 24 hours following the five-week trial.

Follow our full coverage of the trial here. Top Stories

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