New Jersey, April 5: A New Jersey court has sentenced last of five men charged with the 2010 fatal beating of an Indian-American computer scientist Divyendu Sinha to more than 12 years in prison. Steven Contreras, now 20, will have to serve at least six years and eight months before he becomes eligible for parole under the sentence imposed Thursday by Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz in New Brunswick, nj.com reported,
“This is a tragedy, a tragedy for the Sinha family and the families of the defendants,” Ferencz was quoted as saying to Contreras, who drove his four friends around the night of the attack and took them home after the assault on the Sinha family. “It is also criminal. You were the only sober one that night. You were in control. You made the decisions.”
Before he was sentenced, Contreras apologized to Alka Sinha, the victim’s widow who was seated in the first row of the courtroom, the judge, the prosecutors and his family, for his actions. Alka Sinha declined to comment after the sentencing, nj.com said.
Contreras was acquitted of murder and aggravated manslaughter in 2012, but the jury could not decide on reckless manslaughter and convicted him on several third and fourth degree assault, riot and hindering charges. He entered his guilty plea before the state retried him on reckless manslaughter.
According to trial testimony, the five accused – Contreras, Julian Daley, Christian Tinli, Cash Johnson and Christopher Conway– who were teenagers in 2010, were drinking and smoking marijuana behind an elementary school in Old Bridge the night of June 25, 2010. Contreras testified he did not smoke or drink because he was driving.
With Contreras driving them around, the group instigated a road-rage incident on their way home, but when it failed to result in a fight, they agreed to find someone else to assault.
They saw four people walking on Fela Drive and Daley, Tinli, Johnson and Conway got out of the car to chase them. The four turned out to be Divyendu and Alka Sinha and their two sons, out for a walk in their neighbourhood.
The family was attacked, and Divyendu Sinha, 49, died three days later from a brain haemorrhage.