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Evens St. Hilaire has apologized at length for fatally stabbing his fiancée in New London last year, but a Superior Court judge Friday sentenced him to 29 years in prison, saying being sorry was not enough.
"You have to take criminal responsibility," Judge Patrick J. Clifford said.
St. Hilaire, 33, had no criminal record before he pleaded guilty to murdering 26-year-old Lynda Sanon at his apartment on Crystal Avenue in New London on March 19, 2011. He claims Sanon, of Wallingford, went to his home to confront him because he may have given her a sexually transmitted disease. His attorney, Kevin C. Barrs, said that during the ensuing argument, she picked up a knife and attacked him. St. Hilaire took the knife from her and stabbed her in the neck.
He fled the apartment building and was driving to Sanon's mother's house to beg for forgiveness when he called 911. Police took him into custody on Interstate 95.
Barrs said St. Hilaire, a hard-working man who has had difficulty in life because he stutters, is devastated.
"She was the only person who loved him for him," Barrs said. "He still can't wrap his head around it."
St. Hilaire worked as a dealer at Mohegan Sun and had no criminal record before pleading guilty to Sanon's murder. Barrs said tests indicated that St. Hilaire never had a sexually transmitted disease.
After listening to a brief statement from Sanon's mother, who is now caring for the young child of her murdered daughter, St. Hilaire read a lengthy apology letter that his attorney said he had prepared months ago. Part of the letter was addressed to the victim's daughter, who was not in the courtroom.
"I want you to know about your mom," he said. "She was a very good person and a loving person. I remember the first time I met your mom. I couldn't keep my eyes off her. She changed my life."
Sanon worked as a medical assistant in a doctor's office and was set to graduate from Goodwin College in East Hartford with an associate's degree in health science. Like St. Hilaire, she was of Haitian descent. She went to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to check on relatives and to offer her medical services, according to her friends.
Under the plea deal worked out between Barrs and prosecutor David J. Smith, Hilaire faced a maximum of 30 years in prison, but Barrs had the right to argue for a shorter sentence. The judge said he could not come down very much off the maximum and reduced it by one year.
"There's nothing that occurs here that's going to ease the pain for the mother of the 26-year-old child, the mother who is now raising (the victim's) daughter," Clifford said.