New London — The third of six men involved in the 2010 stabbing death of 25-year-old Matthew Chew accepted his eight-year-prison sentence Tuesday, promising to give back to the community when he gets out of prison.
Brian Rabell, 21, had pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter as part of a plea agreement, admitting his role in the Oct. 29, 2010, "beat down" and stabbing of Chew.
Rabell, wearing rosary beads around his neck, faced Chew's family and told them he was "deeply sorry" for their loss.
"I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me," Rabell said. "I just hope you guys can get through it. When I do get home, I'll get back on the path to righteousness."
Chew's death was a senseless act of violence by a group intent on hunting down and hurting a random victim on the streets of New London, according to prosecutor Stephen Carney.
"The six decided they were going to go out and jump somebody," Carney said.
The victim turned out to be Chew, who was walking home from work at 2Wives Pizza when he was surrounded by the group on Huntington Street.
Carney said Chew was stabbed repeatedly by Idris Elahi, 19, who is now serving a 35-year prison sentence for murder.
Rabell and four others involved in the attack are being sentenced on consecutive days this week.
It was another emotional day for Chew's family and friends, who spoke about their loss and cried during the airing of a photo montage of Chew from infancy through adulthood.
"On Oct. 29, 2010, my world as I knew it changed forever," Chew's mother, Marilyn Chew, said. "I still want to wake up from this nightmare and see Matt walking through that door."
She said she hoped Rabell would remain in prison for the entire eight years. (Editors note: This sentence corrects an earlier version.)
"If he is remorseful, he can show this by doing his time … and doing some good towards others in the future," Marilyn Chew said.
Both she and husband, Richard Chew, said they were still coping with a new normalcy without their son.
"I miss Matt. I miss his smile. I miss his laugh," Marilyn Chew said through tears.
In explaining his rationale for accepting manslaughter pleas by Rabell and four others, Carney said the men did not have any specific plans to kill anyone but showed "extreme indifference to human life" when they engaged in conduct that led to a death — fitting of a manslaughter, not murder, charge.
Because Rabell came forward, "at some peril to himself," his case warranted some consideration in his sentencing, Carney said.
Of the six men, Carney said, Rabell, with no prior criminal record, also appeared to have the greatest potential, having recently graduated from Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Technical High School and having been accepted into the U.S. Marine Corps.
Despite that, however, Carney said Rabell chose not to help Chew and not to stop the others, and even admitted to striking Chew once in the head during the incident.
Defense attorney Thomas Simones said Rabell has expressed genuine remorse for the crime and wanted nothing more than to atone for his sins.
Rabell's mother, Nancy Charlemagne, said she could not defend her son for making the choice he made, but she said she still loves him.
"He's my son and I know he'll do good when he gets out," she said.
Judge Susan Handy told Charlemagne, "We teach children right and wrong, but we can't make choices for them."
Handy sentenced Rabell to 16 years in prison, suspended after eight years , followed by five years of probation. Rahshad Perry, 19, was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison and five years of probation.
Tyree Bundy, 20, who also cooperated with the police investigation, is to be sentenced today to eight years in prison. Matias Perry, 19, who did not cooperate with the investigation, is to be sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison. Marquis Singleton, 19, will be sentenced Friday to eight years in prison.