CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A Harvard (search) graduate student was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six to eight years in prison Thursday for stabbing a young man to death in a fight that heightened the generations-old tension between the Ivy Leaguers and working-class Cambridge.
Prosecutors had charged 26-year-old Alexander Pring-Wilson (search) with murder in the slaying last year of Michael Colono (search), arguing that Pring-Wilson attacked the 18-year-old Colono for ridiculing him as he stumbled home drunk.
"Michael Colono made fun of the defendant and it cost him his life," prosecutor Adrienne Lynch said.
Pring-Wilson said he pulled a four-inch folding knife and stabbed Colono in self-defense after Colono and his cousin brutally beat him.
The jury deliberated over five days before finding Pring-Wilson guilty of the lesser charge. Judge Regina Quinlan could have given him 20 years behind bars.
The case represented a collision of two worlds.
Pring-Wilson, the son of Colorado lawyers, was studying for his master's degree in Russian and Eurasian studies and planned to attend law school. Colono, a high school dropout, had earned his equivalency diploma and was working as a cook at a Boston hotel. He died the day before his daughter's third birthday.
Defense attorney Ann Kaufman, in tears as she asked the judge to sentence Pring-Wilson to probation, said he had been unfairly portrayed as a product of an elite upbringing.
"He's worked all of his life. He comes from a family where all the children in the family worked," Kaufman said. "This isn't about race, or class or privilege or wealth. ... What it's about is what happened on that street between three people."
After the verdict, Colono's mother, Ada, broke down in tears outside court and was comforted by her family.
Pring-Wilson's mother, Cynthia Pring, said she understood the Colono family's pain. "I feel for them so strongly," she said. "My son feels for them so strongly."