A Queens taxi driver was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison Monday after his conviction in the August 2011 stabbing death of a fellow cabdriver during a dispute about a fare.
Christopher Heron, 37, of Springfield Gardens, was convicted by a jury in October of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Before sentencing Heron, Nassau Judge Jerald Carter said the stabbing, which was captured on video, was deliberate. Carter said at one point on the video Heron's knife can be seen skidding across the Franklin Square parking lot, and Heron goes to retrieve it rather than continue to fight without it.
Heron's victim, William Mena, 33, of Queens, left behind a wife and two young sons. Mena's sister wept as Carter read his sentence.
"Does the family accept your apology?" the judge asked Heron moments after the defendant told Carter he was "truly sorry."
"No," Carter continued. "Because you took something away from them that was precious. You irrevocably took a future."
Heron's low, mumbled statement was difficult to hear in court, but he said he didn't mean to hurt Mena and that he had been a good friend.
Heron's defense lawyer, Joseph LoPiccolo, of Garden City, who was not the trial attorney in the case, asked Carter to take into account that what Heron did was a split-second decision.
"This wasn't someone lying in wait with a gun to cause someone's death. This happened in the heat of the moment," LoPiccolo said.
Prosecutor Michael Walsh said in court that Heron stabbed Mena three times in the chest and abdomen before fleeing. Before the attack, the two men, both cabdrivers for Ollie's Taxi in Franklin Square, were arguing about an incident a few hours earlier when Heron accused the victim of stealing a fare that had been assigned to him.
Mena was pronounced dead at the scene. Heron left his cab in the lot after fleeing, but surrendered to police later that night.
"This was nothing short of a brutal, intentional murder," Walsh said.
In a statement, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice agreed.
"This defendant turned a dispute between co-workers into a brutal attack that will forever affect the families of both men," Rice said. "While no sentence can ever bring the victim back, I hope Mr. Mena's family finds solace in knowing that his killer will spend a very long time in prison, reflecting on all the pain he has caused."