Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Times-Ledger: Rich Hill Teen Gets 24 Years in Shooting by Howard Koplowitz...

A Richmond Hill teenager who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting another teen at a South Ozone Park block party in 2005 will spend the next 24 years in a state prison after he was sentenced in Queens Supreme Court Monday, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Vijai Dube, 18, of 116-10 Liberty Ave. in Richmond Hill, killed 15-year-old Harrichad Singh with a semi-automatic handgun during a summer block party on 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park back in August 2005. Singh was struck once in the head and once in the wrist.

Shastra Sagar, a 14-year-old at the block party, was injured in the incident when Dube shot him in the chest. Sagar was taken to Jamaica Hospital after the shooting and was released a few hours later.

Dube was a high school sophomore at the time of the shootings. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter before Queens Supreme Court Justice Randall Eng on May 7. Eng sentenced the teen to 24 years in prison on Monday.

"While today's sentencing closes the book on the criminal prosecution, it doesn't eradicate the harm and suffering that the defendant's senseless actions inflicted on the victims and their families," Brown said in a statement. "I hope that they can take solace in knowing that justice has been done and that society will be protected from the defendant for a long time."

Brown called the shootings a "shocking example of mindless gun-related violence" when they first occurred, and charged Dube with murder and attempted murder charges before reaching a plea deal on the manslaughter charge.

Dube said at his arraignment that the two victims were looking at him and talking, which led him to believe they were planning to hurt him so he went to get a gun and went back to the party, according to The New York Times.

Dube would have faced between 25 years to life in prison if he was convicted of the murder and attempted murder charges.