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Man who admitted pulling trigger in horseplay shooting death of friend in New Milford could be free in 6½ years

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

CVP EXCLUSIVE: An East Orange man who killed his friend when a gun he was fooling around with went off behind a New Milford apartment complex could be eligible for parole in 6½ years after pleading guilty in Hackensack today to aggravated manslaughter.

Byron Sankar, 22, admitted chambering a live round and squeezing the trigger of the .9mm handgun “with some degree of force” while it was pointed at 23-year old Alex Bridge the night of Aug. 3, 2013 behind the Dorchester Apartments.

Another man who was there, Aaron McMorris of Hackensack, also pleaded guilty today.

McMorris, 23, admitted fleeing with Sankar and his wife after the shooting and then returning to the scene to call for help for Bridge, who was bleeding profusely. He said he also lied to police about who shot him to protect Sankar.

Police found Bridge’s body in the parking lot of the nearby New Milford Estates housing complex on Reichelt Road. He was taken to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, where he died.

Authorities said he might have lived had McMorris not waited 15-20 minutes to return to the scene.

Questioned today by defense attorney Adam Lustberg, Sankar said he threw the gun into the woods along the New Jersey Turnpike as he and his wife drove back to East Orange.

It was never found.

A red-eyed McMorris — hiding from a photographer behind his attorney — pleaded guilty to leaving an incapacitated injured person and lying to police in exchange for probation.

He and Sankar were scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 10.

Sankar would have to serve 85% percent of his 12-year plea-bargained sentence. However, Lustberg said he could argue for a 10-year sentence, which reduces parole eligibility to 8½ years. Sankar will also get credit for the nearly two years he’s spent so far in the Bergen County Jail.

He could have faced up to 30 years if convicted at a trial.

The man who authorities said sold Sankar the gun, Nicholas Questel of East Orange, was n federal custody on a drug charge and was being deported back to his native Trinidad and Tobago, authorities said.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer, defense attorney Adam Lustberg, Byron Sankar (STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)


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