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Long IslandSuffolk

Matthew Byank sentenced in fiancee Lauren Parris' death

Matthew J. Byank, 21, surrounded by family members,

Matthew J. Byank, 21, surrounded by family members, weeps at Riverhead Criminal Court. (July 18, 2012) Credit: Jim Staubitser

A Mastic man who killed his pregnant fiancee when he lost control of his motorcycle while fleeing police at high speed was sentenced to between 3 and 9 years in prison Wednesday.

Matthew Byank, 21, who pleaded guilty in May to second-degree manslaughter and other charges, tearfully apologized in court to the family of Lauren Parris, 19, of Mastic Beach, who was thrown from Byank's motorcycle and killed when he struck a utility pole on Montauk Highway in Amagansett in May 2010.

"No matter how long I'm in jail, I'll have a life sentence without Lauren," Byank told Judge C. Randall Hinrichs in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead. "I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused Lauren's family. I made a terrible choice. If I could turn the clock back, I would."

The sentence was part of a negotiated plea deal with the court. Byank had originally faced up to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge.

Parris' father, Dan, said Byank's sentence was trivial compared with the pain he has caused.

"I'm going to haunt you until the day I'm next to my daughter in an urn," Parris told Byank in court before the sentencing. "I'm glad you're going to be off the streets."

Parris said he had warned Byank not to speed with his daughter on board, after she complained about him driving 100 mph on the Long Island Expressway.

"I told him, 'My daughter gets hurt, you get hurt,' " Parris told the judge. "I'm not a killing man, so I broke my promise. He's lucky I'm not that kind of man."

Byank was fleeing an East Hampton police officer who had switched on his emergency lights after Byank rode past him at a high rate of speed.

Witnesses estimated Byank was going 90 mph to 150 mph when he crossed into the eastbound lanes before the crash.

Byank's driver's license had been suspended and he only had a motorcycle permit, which doesn't allow him to carry a passenger, prosecutors said.

Lauren Parris had learned she was pregnant with Byank's child the day of the crash -- and told her family she was afraid to go riding with him that evening because he was so reckless on the road, relatives said.

"I hope every time you go somewhere, you hear a child crying, so that you think about what you took away from her," the victim's sister, Danielle Parris, told Byank in court. "You took so much away from us."

Byank's family and friends had sent numerous letters to Hinrichs asking for leniency, but some of those notes called the crash an "accident" -- a characterization the judge called inaccurate.

"It's much more than an accident given the conduct that was involved here -- driving without a license and flight," he said. "Significant action must be taken."

After the sentencing, Parris' relatives hugged each other and cried.

Several wore shirts with her photograph, and this message: "Only the good die young."

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