A man accused of throwing a sparkler that caused a deadly fire in Southington last summer was sentenced to seven years in prison
Eric Morelli, 19, was arrested in June 2014 following the death of 19-year-old Kristen Milano, prosecutors said.
“I never thought a sparkler could start a fire...I think about how stupid I was,” Morelli said.
In New Britain Superior Court on Thursday, he called Milano a great friend. He said he was "sorry for what happened and the pain" that he caused the family.
“I think about her every day and can't believe I caused her death,” Morelli said.
Dozens of Milano's family and friends attended the sentencing. Many had to fight back tears as her sisters recalled memories.
“The day started my family's life sentence of pain and misery,” Mary Milano, who is the victim's mother, said.
Milano's mother also spoke and said she felt a potential 10 year max sentence for Morelli was not enough. She said she was given the "life sentence" when her daughter died.
“If only for a short time, we will feel there is a small sense of justice for my daughter,” Mary Milano said.
Back in May of this year, he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
Prosecutors said Morelli admitted to throwing a “popper” through a window to wake up Milano’s brother. He said he didn’t know Milano was there in an upstairs bedroom.
Milano had been sleeping at the time.
When the fire started, Milano’s family said Morelli showed no remorse, sped away and failed to call 911. Milano died of smoke inhalation and police said the house had to be gutted.
"I did not mean for this or want this to happen. These are my friends. I would never have done anything to hurt them," Morelli said.
Throughout the sentencing, Morelli sat, looking forward and never addressed the family. In the end, he would get seven years in prison followed by five years of probation. He was taken away right after the decision.
“I will never get to see her fall in love with the man of her dreams,” Mary Milano said. "I will never be able to see her walk down the aisle and get married.”
Mary Milano said that sentence was not enough for the family robbed of their daughter.
“His family will have to visit him in prison. I can only visit my daughter at her gravesite,” she said.
Thursday’s statements by Morelli was the first time the Milano heard a peep from him. They said there was never an apology and never an acknowledgement of what he did.
Milano's family said he's shown no remorse since the tragedy, flaunting pictures that opened deep wounds on social media.
“He was bragging that he'll only serve a year in prison time,” Mary Milano said. “He continued leave photos up on social media that showed him with exploding fireworks with the caption, 'fire good.'”
In a rare appearance, prosecutor John Malone said it was fair.
“There has to be a balance between the two parties and I think it came somewhere in the reasonable area,” Malone said.
His family, speaking through their attorney, told Eyewitness News there are no winners on Thursday.
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