Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

12 Years for Man Who Fatally Wounded Friend

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

12 Years for Man Who Fatally Wounded Friend

Article excerpt

An East Orange man was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in state prison for recklessly handling a loaded 9mm pistol and fatally wounding a friend from New Milford two years ago.

Dressed in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit, his wrists and ankles in shackles, Byron Sankar told state Superior Court Judge Susan J. Steele that he "made the biggest mistake of my life" when he "accidentally caused" the death of Alex Bridge, 22, on Aug. 3, 2013.

"I wish he could still be here enjoying life with his family and friends. I want you to know I'm sorry," Sankar told the judge during a hearing in Hackensack.

Sankar pleaded guilty in June to a charge of aggravated manslaughter and admitted he had smoked marijuana and taken anti- anxiety pills before he shot Bridge once in the abdomen about 1 a.m. in an apartment complex parking lot in New Milford.

Sankar, 22, also pleaded guilty of hindering his own apprehension by tossing the gun in the woods after fleeing.

Authorities said Sankar was showing the gun to another friend, Aaron McMorris, and Bridge when he racked the slide to load a round into the chamber and pulled the trigger.

The two men, along with Sankar's wife, quickly fled the scene, but McMorris later returned, called 911 and stayed with Bridge until help arrived. Bridge was pronounced dead at Holy Name Medical Center.

"I'm not a killer or a thug," Sankar told the judge, adding that "drugs and alcohol came to dominate my life. I can't help but think that if I had not been so dependent on drugs, Alex would be alive today."

Sankar said he should have stayed to help Bridge.

"This was a horrible accident that will never repeat itself in my life again," Sankar said.

Under a plea deal, approved by the victim's family, the state recommended the 12-year sentence. Sankar must serve at least 85 percent of it before he can be eligible for parole, the judge said. …

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