The family of Jamie Kirk Hahn and her husband, Nation, had welcomed Jonathan Broyhill into their lives as if he were part of the clan.
Broyhill was there for holidays, vacations and other events, large and small.
Chris Kirk, an accountant from South Carolina, was in the courtroom Thursday, describing for the judge who presided over Broyhill’s murder trial the phone call on April 22, 2013, when he first learned his daughter, Jamie, his only child, was in a Raleigh hospital some 230 miles away.
The call was cryptic, Kirk said, and in a frantic effort to get more information, he tried to find someone in Raleigh who might have details. He tried Nation Hahn, his son-in-law, but got no response.
His next phone call went to the Hahns’ best man at their wedding, a friend of the couple’s whom Kirk referred to as “his adopted nephew.”
Broyhill, awaiting sentencing in the Wake County Justice Center for the first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon charges he had been convicted of the day before, sat next to his attorneys, his eyes cast downward.
He couldn’t respond to Kirk’s call. He was in the same hospital, not only recovering from stab wounds he inflicted upon himself, but also a suspect in a crime that left many scars.
The people who used to refer to him as family had emotional and harsh words for Broyhill on Thursday. They had had 23 months to think about the frenzied knife attack that left Jamie Hahn fatally wounded and Nation Hahn, her doting husband, a widower.
They were angry, sad, confused, tired.
They knew he could get a life sentence with no possibility for parole. That’s routine in first-degree murder cases. But they wanted him to get the harshest sentences available for the other two crimes.
“Jon, you gave Jamie a death sentence,” Chris Kirk said to Broyhill. “You gave us all a life sentence, and now, you can share in that life sentence, Jon.”
Judge Paul Ridgeway sentenced Broyhill to life in prison and tacked on 19 to 25 years for the other crimes. Joseph Arbour, one of two public defenders who represented Broyhill, filed immediate notice of appeal.
Arbour spoke briefly to the families of Jamie and Nation Hahn and offered his condolences for their palpable losses.
Teresa Kirk, Jamie’s stepmother, had described for the judge “the dark, cold world” she can’t escape.
“My Jamie is dead because someone she believed to be one of her best friends wanted to kill her,” the woman Jamie Kirk called “Resa” told the judge. “My beloved only child was brutally murdered.”
Jamie Hahn was just 29 when she breathed her last breath on April 24, 2013, in a WakeMed hospital room.
“The day that Jamie died, a part of me died with her,” her stepmother said, her voice choked with emotion.
There would be no more mother-daughter times in the kitchen, cooking, laughing, sharing recipes. She only had memories now – of her vivacious and well-loved stepdaughter snuggling up to their pets, walking on the beach, unwrapping presents, bringing her parents joy through emails and phone calls.
The dreams of grandchildren and great-grandchildren had vanished. No longer would Teresa and Chris Kirk rush to the windowsill of their South Carolina home after hearing the crunch of tires on the gravel driveway, and that enthusiastic car horn honk, signaling Jamie Hahn had come for a visit.
“I ask myself if I will ever be happy again,” Teresa Kirk said. “I have to try and create a new existence for myself now – I have to try and figure out how to survive. The world marches on, but mine is frozen in time at the moment of Jamie’s murder.”
Nation Hahn wore a borrowed bow tie Thursday to honor Assistant District Attorney Doug Faucette and Raleigh detective Zeke Morse, who sported their own bow ties each day of the court proceedings.
A void in his life
He described the void in his life with a range of emotions.
Several times he looked at the defense table, where the man he met at church his freshman year of high school sat. Broyhill did not look toward the witness stand at the friend from Lenoir he had followed to Raleigh.
“Hey Jon, if you want to look up you can,” Nation Hahn said.
Nation Hahn described a wife with whom he had planned to have children.
He still treasures her card from their fourth anniversary, the one they celebrated the weekend before her death, that she had signed, “I love you to the moon.” He keeps with him a necklace that holds her wedding ring and other symbols of their love.
“I would give anything – anything, anything, anything – to hold her in my arms,” Nation Hahn said, and watch her make the “frog face” she made right before kissing him. “To kiss her, to hold her. To tell her I love her, but I can’t.”
He recalled her generous spirit and urged others to honor her memory by nurturing others and living compassionately.
After describing his loss and talking about the love he cherishes, Nation Hahn looked at the man who stood beside him at his wedding and spoke about Jamie Hahn.
“Jon, you killed her. You tried to kill me. But you can’t kill her spirit. You can’t kill what made her so special,” Nation Hahn said.