NYPD cop admits killing fiancee

December 3, 2008 5:27:06 PM PST
A New York City police instructor has admitted he shot and killed his fiancee, also an NYPD officer, inside their Long Island home in September 2007.Alexis Chaparro pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter Wednesday in the death of Officer Sonia Garcia in state Supreme Court in Riverhead.

Chapparo pleaded guilty after the prosecution agreed to drop its charge of second-degree depraved indifference murder.

Prosecutor Janet Albertson said recent appeals court decisions have made it difficult to convict suspects in one-on-one shootings like the killing of Garcia, so the decision was made to accept a plea deal to ensure Chaparro spends a "substantial prison sentence."

Chaparro contended he was concerned about burglars in his Bay Shore neighborhood and shot and killed the victim after being awakened from a sound sleep.

Garcia's relatives lunged at her killer in open court Wednesday after the judge accepted the plea bargain.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. But inmates are usually released after serving two-thirds of their sentences, and because he has already been in custody for a year, he is likely to be released within just six years.

The circumstances are complicated, but Garcia was killed with a single shot to the chest from Chapparo's service weapon at about 6 a.m. in September of last year.

She had just arrived home from her job at the 77th Precinct.

In court, Chapparo admitted sleeping with the gun under his pillow and he admitted firing it. But he claimed he was shooting at "a shadow," suggesting he believed he was shooting an intruder. He was forced to admit, however, that he knew his fiancee was expected to arrive home at about that time.

Although Garcia's relatives believe that she was murdered in cold blood, after what had been an on-going domestic dispute, prosecutors said that the grand jury's indictment made that allegation impossible to prosecute.

The grand jury indicted Chapparo on a single count of depraved indifference murder, and not intentional murder. For a variety of complex legal reasons, the allegation as charged in the indictment would have been extremely difficult to prove at trial, according to Albertson.

Albertson defended the grand jury presentation and was reluctant to second-guess its decision.

In a statement, the Suffolk County DA said:

"The prosecutor handling the case, Homicide Bureau Chief Janet Albertson, said the facts and evidence, coupled with recent appellate decisions overturning verdicts of defendants convicted of depraved indifference murder in cases involving one on one shootings, led to the decision to not risk a trial and instead resolve the case with a plea "to ensure the defendant serves a substantial prison sentence."

Albertson said the grand jury that heard testimony and reviewed evidence in the case last year rejected the filing of an intentional murder charge against Chapparo and voted a "no true bill" on the charge.

During previous court appearances defense counsel claimed the defendant was in fear of burglars and sound asleep when he was startled awake and fired the shot that killed the victim.

Chaparro is to be sentenced in January.