Nineteen-year-old Marquis Singleton and his parents apologized to the Chew family Friday afternoon during the fifth sentencing this week in the murder case that shook the community.
Singleton was sentenced to eight years in prison for first-degree manslaughter for his role in the stabbing death of 25-year-old Matthew Chew, a random victim, on Huntington Street in New London on Oct. 29, 2010. He and five other teens had set out that night with the intent of jumping somebody.
Singleton, dressed in tan prison pants and a white T-shirt and wearing thick glasses, stood up, faced the Chew family, and uttered several disjointed sentences as he apologized for the role he played in Chew's death.
"I feel like I took somebody from you," he said, in part. "… I wasn't going to talk, but I felt like I had to man up."
Singleton's exact role in the crime was in dispute until the very day of his sentencing. Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney said there had been some indication that Singleton, along with the lead aggressor, Idris Elahi, had carried a knife that night and had slashed Chew in the face.
"The state has never been in a position to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt," Carney said. "What we have is hearsay, so we proceeded on the information that this defendant participated in the hunt and the kill."
Elahi pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing Chew and was sentenced in May to 35 years in prison for murder. The remaining five defendants had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter and were sentenced this week to either eight or 15 years in prison, depending on whether they cooperated with the prosecution.
For the fifth time this week, the Chew family asked court officials to play a 10-minute photo montage of Matthew's life, a presentation they said was intended to show the defendants that the victim they had left to die on the street was a real person with a family and a life. Chew's parents, Marilyn and Rick Chew, and his sister, Mindy, delivered victim impact statements that expressed the depth of their loss.
Singleton's parents, James and Lynette Singleton, also spoke.
"I just wanted to express to the family that I've been praying since this occurred, and I'm still praying," said Lynette Singleton.
James Singleton said he doesn't know exactly how the Chew family feels, but that like them, he has lost sleep at night, "because this is my baby son." He said he worked for the Department of Correction for 20 years and, "I would have never thought that this could hit us at our home."
He said his family attended church and was involved in their son's life.
"Sometimes we make mistakes," he said. "I really didn't want him to make this life-changing mistake."
Like the other five defendants, Singleton will be on probation for five years after his release from prison.
Defense attorney Joseph Elder said he wanted to tell the Chew family that Singleton was not a member of the Goon Squad group and was out with them for the first time the night Chew was killed.
"In fact, he had been brutalized by them on a prior occasion," Elder said.
He said Singleton denies the allegation that he had a knife that night. He said the information may have come from a co-defendants in an attempt to deflect blame.
Judge Susan B. Handy thanked the Chew family for enduring the difficult week and assured them that she had come to know Matthew Chew through their presentations as a talented young artist, a son, a brother, an uncle and a friend.
The judge also thanked Singleton's parents, who she said were suffering to see their son in leg shackles and prison clothes.
The judge said she hopes the past five days have served to send a message.
"Violence of any type is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in a civil society," she said. "When violence prevails, punishment ensues."
Chew's parents said they would be collecting their son's personal items that had been seized by police and they were relieved the week was over. They were comforted, they said, by a large group of their son's friends and even one of his eighth-grade teachers who had come to court to support them.