Rikers Island jail guard who ignored pleas of dying inmate is sentenced to 5 years in prison

A former Rikers Island guard convicted of ignoring the pleas of a dying inmate has been handed a five-year prison term by a judge who said the sentence was intended to be a deterrent to others.

Former Department of Correction Captain Terrence Pendergrass dabbed tears from his eyes after the sentence was announced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams in New York.

She rejected a request by prosecutors that Pendergrass be immediately incarcerated, noting he had reliably shown up for his court appearances.

The 51-year-old Pendergrass was sentenced in the 2012 death of Jason Echevarria. The 25-year-old prisoner died after swallowing toxic detergent while housed in a now-closed solitary confinement unit for inmates who break jailhouse rules.

Pendergrass was convicted in December of depriving Echevarria of his civil rights.