BRIDGEPORT -- A guest at a Christmas party, who fatally shot his host in the head after mistakenly thinking he had stolen his wallet, was sentenced Friday to 35 years in prison.
But the judge, while noting the 26-year-old Gonzalez had no previous criminal record, said a severe penalty was warranted.
"This was all because you had a stupid gun available. If you didn't have a gun that night, this man wouldn't be dead," Devlin said.
Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter with a firearm, broke into tears after police later found the wallet on a shelf where Gonzalez forgot he had put it for safe keeping, State's Attorney John Smriga said.
On Christmas Day in 2011, police found 29-year-old Noel Cosme lying in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor on Laurel Avenue. He had been shot once in the head.
Cosme and his brother had hosted a Christmas party at their home only a short time earlier. When police arrived, they began questioning the victim's brother and Gonzalez, who was standing on the front porch.
Police said Gonzalez initially denied knowing anything about the shooting, claiming he had been at a club in Port Chester, N.Y., at the time.
However, during the interview, detectives said they noticed blood spatter on Gonzalez's right shoe. When they confronted him again, police said Gonzalez began to cry and confessed to killing Cosme.
Gonzalez said when he couldn't find his wallet at the party, he accused Cosme of taking it.
When Cosme denied he had the wallet, police said Gonzalez told them he went to his car and retrieved a handgun from under the seat that he had purchased on the street two weeks ago.
Then he returned and shot Cosme, police said. Detectives later found the wallet on a shelf in the apartment where Gonzalez had put it for safe keeping.
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