A judge sentenced Edi Rapo (20) to 4 ½ years in prison for a punch that led to the death of a University of Connecticut student last year. Rapo pleaded no contest to second-degree manslaughter in July. A no-contest plea, while technically not the same as admitting guilt, has the same immediate effect. Rapo’s attorney said the no-contest plea was entered because there is a pending lawsuit against the defendant.

Rapo punched Jafar Karzoun, who was 20 at the time, during an argument between their friends during the Spring Weekend festivities in April of 2010. Karzoun fell and hit his head, suffering a broken jaw and a traumatic brain injury. He died 8 days later. Karzoun was the oldest of four children, who was a Management Information Systems major at the University of Connecticut, where he received scholarships.

Superior Court Judge Terence Sullivan rejected the lenient 2-year sentence suggested by Rapo’s attorney. Rapo had supporters at court who testified that he was a remarkable young man with a non-violent past, but the judge was not completely swayed. Sullivan sentenced Rapo to 9 years, suspending half the sentence, and added 5 years of probation.

“Mr. Rapo’s behavior … was both aggressive and unjust and that doesn’t fit the profile I get from other people that he’s a non-violent person,” Sullivan said. “He committed a violent act. Jafar Karzoun was not a threat to the defendant.”

Under the plea agreement, the judge could have sentenced the defendant to up to 5 ½ years, which Karzoun’s family had begged the judge to do.

“I lost my 20-year-old son to a cowardly, senseless act. I call it murder; the state calls it manslaughter,” said Loryan Karzoun, the victim’s mother. “My heart aches and breaks, over and over, every day, and it will until I die.”

If your family member has been seriously injured or killed due to the reckless actions of someone else, contact the Connecticut wrongful death attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC for the help you need.