Motorcyclist Gets 3 to 9 Years in Prison for Death of Pregnant Fiancée

Matthew Byank, of Mastic, was sentenced to the max under a negotiated plea deal with the court on Wednesday.

Matthew Byank, whose pregnant 19-year-old fiancée Lauren M. Parris died when he crashed his motorcycle in Amagansett two years ago while fleeing from police, was sentenced 3 to 9 years in state prison on Wednesday, the maximum under the cap the judge promised when Byank pleaded guilty in May.

Suffolk County Criminal Court Judge C. Randall Hinrichs handed down the sentence following an emotional morning in court on Wednesday. Lauren's family chastised Byank for his carelessness and Byank told the judge he loved Lauren deeply and was sorry.

Byank, a 21-year-old from Mastic, with the court on May 9. In exchange, Judge Hinrichs promised him no less than 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 years. He opted for the longer sentence, though the Suffolk County District Attorney's office had recommended 4 to 12 years. Negotiated pleas are not deals with the DA's office, but rather with the court.

Parris and Byank, then 19 years old, took a ride on his sport bike, with friends, to Montauk, after finding out they were expecting a baby, on May 24, 2010. They were headed back when an East Hampton Town police officer tried to pull them over for speeding.

When Byank pleaded guilty on May 9, he admitted to speeding as fast as 80 mph in a 55 mph zone on Montauk Highway, weaving in and out of traffic on a double-yellow line, between Montauk and Amagansett, eventually losing control of the vehicle and hitting a pole. Parris was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital.

Laura Newcombe, the assistant district attorney, said that while Byank seemed remorseful when he took the deal, a pre-sentencing report showed he was still making excuses for what happened. She said he told the probation department that conduct the pre-sentencing investigation that the police almost hit him and that he had pulled over for the police, which was not the case.

Daniel Barker, Byank's attorney, made an application before sentencing to strike two sentences from the pre-sentencing report that were not favorable for his client, but the judge denied the application.

Hinrichs said that while Byank's family and friends submitted letters on his behalf, he took exception with them calling what happened an accident. "It's much more than an accident given the conduct that was involved here — driving without a license and flight," he said.

Hinrichs said it was clear "significant action must be taken." He then gave Byank 3 to 9 years on the top count of second-degree mansalughter, as well 2 1/3 to 7 years for fleeing a police officer and 30 days for driving with a suspended license. He also has to pay a $375 surcharge. The sentences will run concurrently. 

Byank, dressed in a suit and tie, was then taken into custody. "I'm willing to accept what I have done," he told the judge. "If I could turn the clock back, I would." 

Newcombe referred to a statement Byank made to police after finding out Parris had died: "He inquired as to when he could get his motorcycle back," she said, adding that it pointed to his "callous" nature.

Three people made victim impact statements to the judge before the sentencing, including Danielle Parris, Lauren's younger sister. She said Byank took away her best friend. "You took so much away from us," she said.

Daniel Parris told the judge Byank was a sociopath who moved on quickly with young women after the accident that killed his daughter and his unborn grandchild.

He said he had warned Byank to drive carefully with his daughter after she complained he had done 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic, on the Long Island Expressway two months earlier. "I told him, 'My daughter gets hurt, you get hurt'," Parris told the judge. "I'm not a killing man, so I broke my promise," he said. "He's lucky I'm not that kind of man."

Daniel Parris said he still wants to know exactly what happened that night. He claims that he received a text message from Lauren the night she died at 9:11 p.m. that said they were being chased by police. However, he said, the police report doesn't indicate a chase began until 9:30 p.m.

Still, he said that Byank is the one responsible for his daughter's death even though he believes the police officer shouldn't have chased a motorcyclist with a passenger on back. Byank destroyed a lot of lives, he said. "All he had to do was stop."

After the sentencing, Patricia Parris, Lauren's mother, said the sentence wasn't long enough. "This is nothing," she said. "The worst is yet to come for him."

Friends of the victim wore shirts with her picture on it. The back read: "Only the good die young." 

Rushwind October 15, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I guess I have too much free time... I read the previous articles and comment threads related to this. Matthew's and Lauren's fathers (and other relatives) have had some interesting exchanges. After reading all that I am of the opinion that the sentence was too short. Matthew was a repetitive offender on the roads, knew he was not supposed to be on a bike (admitted to the cops) and regardless of if the police chased him or not, he could have done the right thing for his fiancé and his unborn child and just pulled over instead of subjecting them to the reckless notion of running from the police. There is some ambiguity as to what exactly happened; there is a conflict in the phone records and police report, Matthew's father claims that the officer in pursuit was on Matthew's tail (20 feet behind) and that he has a transcript of the police radio showing the officer never attempted to call ahead, meanwhile Todd (who I respect greatly and believe) says that shortly after the chase ensued in MTK the officer in pursuit lost sight of Matthew. I think if any readers go back and look at the past articles and comments you might find yourself coming to the the conclusion that Matthew is a sociopath and has been trying to blame everybody but himself for the incident.
Rushwind October 15, 2012 at 09:03 PM
The wildest tale I read in past articles was that Matthew claims Lauren was screaming go faster because the police were 20 feet behind him. Have any of you been on a race-bike? Can you imagine hearing someone yelling over the sound of the engine and wind while traveling at 80 MPH with a helmet on? And, interestingly, Lauren had "complained" to her father that Matthew had driven her on the LIE weeks prior to the accident at speeds in excess of 100MPH. We are supposed to believe the same girl also told him to go faster? I don't think so.
Rushwind October 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Yeah PJ. Why don't you read my additional comments. And look up the definition for culpability while you are at it.
melanie poillon December 03, 2012 at 03:15 PM
And he got girlfriends after by being the manipulating scumbag he was before probobly by playing the victim besides I know for a fact he was dating an under age girl who after finding out the truth from laurens dad actually got to walk away with her life.
Dawn Alston April 26, 2013 at 09:11 AM
john his dad drives just like that being his side girl for a little over ten years i use to tell him bout his driving


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