Man gets 18 years in Little Falls mistaken identity stabbing

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Friday, July 8, 2016
Man sentenced in case of mistaken identity that resulted in murder
Anthony Johnson is live in Paterson with the latest details.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- It was sentencing day Friday for a New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in a case of mistaken identity that ended with a young man fatally stabbed.

Brian Topoleski, 18, was stabbed to death in Little Falls three years ago. And now, 20-year-old Jonathan Lafontaine will spend up to 18 years behind bars.

It is difficult to tell if the sentence brought closure to the victim's family, who spoke in a courtroom packed with family, friends and supporters of both the victim and the suspect. Sheriff's officers were standing in the middle of the court to divide the two sides.

The stabbing happened after an apparent road rage incident that ended with a confrontation between two groups of motorists. Lafontaine ran from the vehicle in which he was a passenger grabbed two knives from a friend's before attacking Topoleski, who he mistook for someone else.

Topoleski's mom was very emotional reading her impact statement.

"I have constant anxiety, thinking and worrying about the safety and security of my surviving children, Brian, Bobby and Carleen," Gail Topoleski said. "Could something else bad happen? Could I lose another child? My very sense of security has been destroyed."

Lafontaine will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.