Brooklyn pair get maximum term in Byram college student death

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

    NEW YORK - Two members of a would-be street gang were each sentenced to 25 years to life Wednesday for the slaying of a college sophomore from New Jersey who had met them just hours earlier at a Brooklyn house party during his first unsupervised trip to New York. Antonio Russo, 19, the alleged triggerman, and John Guica, 21, who ordered the slaying, each received the maximum sentence at an emotional hearing before State Supreme Court Judge Alan Marrus. The parents of the slain youth, Mark Fisher, were in the courtroom with their daughter for the sentencing. ``These defendants were callous,’’ Marrus said told the pair in imposing their terms. ``This was a callous crime. So my sentence will be callous.’’ The two Brooklyn residents received the maximum sentence despite pleas by their attorneys for leniency. Both apologized to the Fisher family, and Russo denied any role in the Oct. 12, 2003, slaying of the 19-year-old former college football player from Byram, N.J. ``I send my deepest condolences to you all,’’ said Russo, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a sweatshirt. ``Hopefully justice will be served, and you will find the right person.’’ Michael Fisher, father of the dead youth, said he was unmoved by the defendants’ apologies. ``I feel these are cold-blooded murderers,’’ said Fisher, shaking and clinging to his wife Nancy. ``Both got what they deserved.’’ According to prosecutors, Guica was the Tony Soprano-styled head of a burgeoning Brooklyn gang called the Ghetto Mafia; Russo was one of its members. Fisher encountered the pair at Guica’s house, where he had accompanied a woman from an Upper East Side bar in Manhattan to an after-hours party. About 6:40 a.m., police responding to a report of gunshots found his bullet-riddled boy dumped on a sidewalk south of Prospect Park. Prosecutors said the Fairfield University student was targeted for showing ``disrespect’’ by sitting on a table in Guica’s house. Guica ordered Russo ``to go show that guy what’s up,’’ then provided the shooter with a .22-caliber handgun used to fire five shots into Fisher. It took 13 months after the shooting for police to make an arrest, when Russo was taken into custody. Guica was arrested one month later. Attorneys for both defendants said Wednesday they would appeal the convictions. Both Russo and Guica received concurrent 25-year sentences for robbing Fisher, while Guica received another 15-year concurrent term on a weapons charge. Supporters of Guica sat in the courtroom wearing T-shirts with the message, ``Free John Guica.’’