A North Adams, MA man has been sentenced to serve four-to-five years for involuntary manslaughter after he inadvertently assisted a friend to commit suicide. A jury found 46 year old Christopher Burda guilty on Tuesday, March 11th. He was sentenced today.
In November, 2005, 51 year old Nancy Choquette
was intoxicated and in such a state of turmoil over the death of her father and other problems in her life that she went to visit her friend, Burda. As they talked in Burda's kitchen, Choquette's demeanor turned to anger and frustration about how difficult life was.
Burda told the jury "It was like she needed a slap in the face to just snap her out of it". He said, "I couldn't hit her or touch her, but I was thinking, what would jog her."
Burda handed Choquette the 9mm Beretta that he had purchased from Choquette's own father, but it was unclear from the articles if she asked for the weapon. Burda told police that Choquette said to him "I'm going to do it and you're going to watch."
When the gun failed to fire the first round for Choquette, Burda reloaded it with three fresh bullets in an attempt at 'calling her bluff'. Choquette aimed the re-loaded gun to her head and fired, killing herself in Burda's kitchen.
Defense Attorney Leonard Cohen said that witnessing the suicide had left Burda in need of psychological treatment and medication.
Prosecutor Joan McMenemy cited Burda as the primary cause of Choquette's death. "She pulled the trigger of the gun that the defendant provided to her not once, but twice".
According to boston.com
, Burda's father and two friends described him as a 'caring and helpful friend'. Choquette's son supplied a written statement saying that no friend would have done what he did.
According to boston.com, 'Judge John Agostino agreed that Burda wasn’t a bad person, but his actions were reckless'. While Burda faced up to 20 years for his charges, he was sentenced to serve four to five years in prison.