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A "harebrained, ridiculous plan" to rob a 29-year-old man ended with his death and the man responsible for the killing sentenced to more than three decades in jail.
Christopher Allen, 24, formerly of Mystic, was ordered Thursday to serve 32 years in prison for stabbing Kyle Sheets during a botched robbery in September 2008.
Judge Susan B. Handy said the killing was "a tragedy of epic proportions" before she imposed the sentence on Allen.
"You're paying a heavy price, Mr. Allen, for stupid, ill-thought out behavior," said Handy, adding that the case represents "an exponential factor of stupidity."
Allen, one of four men charged in connection with the killing, pleaded guilty to felony murder in December.
As he was led out of the courtroom by correction officers, Allen's mother was crying and told her son "I love you."
Allen and Vincent Green, 19, boarded a boat, the Crucible, docked at Seaport Marine in Mystic on Sept. 26, 2008, with the intention of robbing Sheets of money and drugs, according to prosecutors. A struggle ensued and Allen stabbed Sheets multiple times.
Sheets' father, Russ, gave an emotional statement before the sentence was imposed and addressed Allen multiple times. He and his son lived on the boat, and the elder Sheets was aboard the Crucible the day of the killing.
Sheets turned to Allen when he said he had a void inside him now that his son is gone and that Allen created that void.
Allen, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, was seated next to his attorney and turned his chair to face Sheets as he spoke. Sheets urged Allen to seek help.
"So you still have a life and you have choices to make," Sheets said. "There's a path you can go on and I'll pray for you that you make the right choices."
Allen did not make a statement during his sentencing.
When he entered the courtroom he blew a kiss toward the two rows filled with his family members and friends. Allen's mother sat in the first row behind him and cried during much of the hearing.
After it was over, she approached Sheets and apologized to him.
Allen is the first of four people arrested in connection with the murder to be sentenced.
Two other men, Bryan Sutton and Bruce Grisafe, allegedly served as lookouts during the botched robbery and their cases are pending.
Green accepted a plea agreement Monday under the Alford Doctrine, which means he doesn't agree with the state's allegations but does not want to risk conviction and the possibility of a lengthier sentence at trial.
He will be sentenced April 19 to 25 years in prison, the mandatory minimum sentence for felony murder.
Outside the courthouse standing next to friends, Sheets talked about the help and support he received through a homicide survivors' support group.
He also said he was not convinced that after years in prison, Allen would be released as a changed man.
"It's not going to happen and there are many more just like him," Sheets said.