Man gets 14 years in prison for son's death
In sentencing Allen L. James in connection with the death of his son, Judge Stuart M. Schimelman said Friday the little's boy voice would be silenced no longer.
He was going to speak up for Alquan White and let James, everyone in the courtroom and greater society know that the death of a child “cannot and must not” be tolerated.
Schimelman sentenced James, of New London, to 14 years in prison in connection with the death.
After he is released, James will be subject to four years of special parole.
”A three-year-old child who should be living lost his life,” said Schimelman. “Lost any opportunity to enjoy it and live. What he could have been ... the responsibility is yours and yours alone.”
He also said the boy's mother, Charleah White, did not help him and left him without any support.
”Alquan's mother helped you bring a child into the world apparently that is when her responsibility ended,” said Schimelman.
On Nov. 4, a 12-member jury, which had listened to three weeks of testimony, found that James was not guilty of capital felony and murder, as charged by the state, but guilty of the lesser offense of first-degree manslaughter and three charges related to the traffic stop in Waterford that led to the discovery of the little boy's remains - reckless driving, engaging police in a pursuit and interfering with police.
He was sentenced to 30 days each on the latter charges, which will run concurrent to the manslaughter charge.
He faced a maximum of 22 years and 30 days in prison.
Prosecutors Paul J. Narducci and David J. Smith tried the case for the state.
Narducci deferred to the court Friday on what sentence it should impose, but noted that James never fully accepted responsibility for his son's death.
”He appeared when testifying more concerned for his own situation than taking responsibility,” said Narducci. “He down played his role.”
Defense attorneys M. Fred DeCaprio and Bruce A. Sturman each took turns speaking on James' behalf. They both said that James is tormented by the death.
”No matter what sentenced is imposed it can never compare to the prison that Allen has fashioned for himself,” said Sturman.
James also spoke on his behalf. He said Alquan's death was an accident and that he did not intend to kill his son. He said he thinks about his son everyday.
”I had him since he was three months,” said James. “I took custody of him. I didn't want his life to be like mine. I just wanted to do the right thing. He was a good baby. He was a good baby.”
Waterford police discovered the boy's remains in a suitcase and plastic garbage bags after James fled from a traffic stop on Dec. 28, 2003. James confessed he had killed his son two or three years earlier and kept the remains in order to be close to Alquan. The ensuing investigation revealed that nobody had closely scrutinized the boy's disappearance. James had told those who asked about the boy that he was living with his mother.
During the trial, jurors viewed disturbing photographs of the remains and heard testimony about the “putrid” smell that James had been attempting to cover up with candles and air freshener. James testified, saying that he had lied to police when he told them he killed his son and that Alquan had simply fainted one day and could not be revived.
Four of the jurors were present in the courtroom Friday. They declined to comment.
A male juror did say the sentence was “fair.”
After the sentencing, Narducci said it was obvious that Schimelman took great time and effort to fashion an appropriate sentence.
He said the case was an emotional one for him and Smith.
”Anytime you deal with a death of a helpless three-year-old child, it takes its toll on you,” said Narducci.
Sturman also noted that it was an emotionally trying case.
”There is no doubt in my mind that the jury in this case did the right thing,” said Sturman. “It's a tragedy and breaks your heart.”
In taking the case to trial, James had rejected the state's offer to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter - the very charge for which he was convicted - in exchange for a 40-year prison sentence.
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