Man sentenced to 54 years in prison for 2013 slaying of Colin Nutter

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Philip Vatamaniu was sentenced Friday to 54 years in prison plus three years of supervision after his release for the 2013 murder of a Highland Park man. (WLS)

A man was sentenced to 54 years in prison for his role in the 2013 shooting death of a 20-year-old from Highland Park.

Colin Nutter was robbed and killed after arranging to sell marijuana to three men, prosecutors said. One of those men, Philip Vatamaniuc, was sentenced Friday to 54 years in prison plus three years of supervision after his release.

Nutter's parents said they are still numb and broken after his killing. In court on Friday, the Nutter family spoke about a young man who was honest, creative, thoughtful and giving. They said their lives without him are broken, even four years since his killing.

"We are never going to get over losing our son, but at least we saw that the criminal justice system works," Michael Nutter, the victim's father, said.

The Nutter family gave victim impact statements before the judge handed down her sentence.

"I think it was a just sentence," Michael Nutter said.

"Because my son was just there, he got 54. I don't think justice was served today," said Daniel Vatamaniuc, the defendant's father.

Authorities said Vatamaniuc, along with Benjamin Schenk and Michael Coffee, arranged to buy marijuana from Nutter in 2013, and ended up shooting him in the head and tossing his body along the Edens Expressway. Lawyers on both sides have opposing views on who is culpable.

"We know Philip Vatamaniuc was not the shooter. We know he did not plan a robbery nor a murder," defense attorney Renea Amen said.

"One of the three shot him. He helped put the body in the trunk, helped bury the body and then went to Chicago and smoked marijuana," said Reginald Matthews, Lake County State's Attorney's Office.

For his part, Vatamaniuc addressed the Nutter family in court, saying in part: "I'm sorry I didn't have the courage to do anything, something that might have saved him. I ask that you might forgive me for that."

"I was moved by his apology. I hope it was sincere, I'm not sure that it was," the victim's father said.
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