SALT LAKE CITY — Nathan and Brenda Toone will never be able to replace the two daughters they lost to the "ignorance, laziness and carelessness" of an exterminator they hired two years ago.
"For the rest of our lives, there will be two empty stockings hanging from the mantle at Christmas time, two empty Easter baskets, and two Halloween jack-o'-lanterns left uncarved," Nathan Toone said.
"Every Christmas, birthday, wedding and outing we will be reminded and once again miss the joy that those two girls brought. Not many families cry tears of sadness and longing at the birth of every new child, at every birthday, on every Thanksgiving and Christmas. We do."
In a federal courtroom Friday, the Toones expressed the profound pain and sadness they live with since the poison Coleman Nocks spread outside their Layton home killed their daughters, 4-year-old Rebecca and 15-month-old Rachel.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Nocks to three years' probation and 100 hours of community service for unlawful use of a registered pesticide.
Nocks applied Fumitoxin pellets into a burrow system within 15 feet of the Toones' house in February 2010. The application was inconsistent with product's labeling and exceeded the required dosage. The poison was aimed at voles, a species of small rodents.
The judge also barred the company Nocks worked for, Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., from doing pest control for three years and fined the company $3,000.
While Benson said he found Nocks genuinely remorseful, he did not feel the same about Bugman President Raymond Wilson. He said if he had to choose whether to put Nocks or Wilson in jail, he would choose Wilson. Despite Wilson's statements to the contrary, Benson said the company was complicit in Nocks' actions.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys had recommended Nocks spend six months in a halfway house and six months of home confinement for the misdemeanor offense.
Nathan Toone said the family was heartbroken when Nocks initially claimed carbon monoxide killed the girls and not "his own stupid mistakes." After the hearing, Toone said he wished Benson would have imposed the agreed-upon sentence, but agreed with him that Nocks has accepted responsibility for what he did.
"We accept his apologies, wish the best for him, and forgive him for his actions," Toone said.
At the same time, the Toones don't want him to forget what happened. Nathan Toone recalled Nocks met Rachel and Rebecca when came to their house.
"We're glad he met them," he said. "We hope that he always remembers their faces."
Nocks said he deals with pain and sorrow every day, and has battled depression and suicidal thoughts.
"It's damaged my mind, my body and my soul," he told the judge.
Nocks said he doesn't know how to explain what he did to God.
"Aside from the debt I owe to society, the most difficult thought is that I must stand before the Lord each day and at the hour of my death and explain to Him how I caused these two beautiful girls to be taken from their family," he wrote in a letter to court.
"While I may eventually come to grips with the grief that I feel because of my actions, I know that I will never be able to fill the void in the hearts of the Toone family."
The Toones said they won't get over the loss of their daughters but will get through it.
"Our lives will never be the same, given that half of our children were prematurely taken from us that February," Nathan Toone said.
"We are so tired. We are tired of sleepless and tearful nights. We are tired of missing our girls. We are tired of needing to explain the backstory every time we tell someone how many children we have, and tired of even needing to figure out what number to give in the first place."9 comments on this story
Despite the constant tears, they have chosen to move forward with their lives, including Brenda giving birth to a son in April. They take solace in the faith they have that their family will one day be reunited.
"We do know we will be able to see and be with Rebecca and Rachel again," Nathan Toone said. "This knowledge and assurance is the single thing that has allowed us to heal as much as we have thus far."