Man, who killed gym owner with ax in Nashville, sentenced with murder

Paavola Family
Posted at 5:25 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 19:35:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Paavola family is trying to put the negativity behind them after a judge sentenced a man to 25 years in prison after he murdered their loved one inside a Nashville gym with an ax.

It’s been about four years since Joel Paavola’s was brutally murdered by a disgruntled employee at his Belle Meade gym. Paavola was killed with an ax in 2018 at his Belle Meade gym.

"No amount of punishment can bring Joel back or fill the unmeasurable loss that was created by his senseless and untimely passing," said Ben Raybin, the Paavola family attorney.

On Friday, emotions were very high inside the courtroom as Domenic Micheli entered dressed in a suit and tie to await Judge Cheryl Blackburn’s verdict.

"This is a very sad situation for everybody involved," Judge Blackburn said.

It's been an emotional rollercoaster for the Paavola family leading up to Friday’s sentencing hearing.

"There's really no amount of justice that can ever make this right it’s just too tough of a situation," Paavola family friend Jay Clementi said.

The investigation revealed Micheli was upset with Pavvola for firing him before the attack.

Eventually, Micheli pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and learned on Friday he’ll spend 25 years behind bars.

"If we feel angry, then we’re living in the past. If we feel fear we’re living in the future. We have to live in the present in order for us to have peace and that’s what we plan on doing," his wife Lana Paavola said.

Jay Clementi thinks no amount of justice can ever make this right.

"Lana misses her husband. His kids — his 5 beautiful kids miss their dad. Joel’s mom and dad miss their son — their amazing son," Clementi said.

He knows Joel is gone but his memory will live on.

"Everybody in this community loves him and loved him. His love and his strength will go on until everybody is off this Earth," Clementi explained.

The family said it’s troubling to know Micheli will likely be placed back into society after his years are served.

The judge in the case did consider several factors in making her decision like Micheli's struggles with mental health and his criminal past.

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