Man sentenced to prison for deadly parking lot attack

South County

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — An Ashaway man was sentenced to prison Tuesday for assaulting and killing another man in a Westerly parking lot back in July 2017.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Alexander Brown, 25, pleaded no contest to a manslaughter charge in the death of John Gardiner. It was his last chance to do so before the case went to trial.

The judge sentenced Brown to 20 years with seven to serve and the rest suspended with probation.

Westerly police said they found Gardiner, 49, unconscious outside Midway Pizza on Main Street around 2:15 a.m. He later died at the hospital, and the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.

Both men were inside the pizza shop beforehand but the fight didn’t start there, according to police. They said surveillance video showed Gardiner apparently bump into Brown outside, prompting Brown to punch Gardiner, which caused him to fall and hit his head.

Brown later told police he hit Gardiner out of self-defense.

Gardiner’s mother Linda Van Dyke said she’ll never be able to forgive Brown.

“Brown is where he belongs,” she said. “He gave a statement at the end saying it was an accident and he is sorry and I know he has to say that because it’s on the record for his benefit and he wants to be forgiven, but there’s no forgiving someone that causes your son to die in such a horrific way.”

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