Defense lawyer John Apruzzese described how Ngarambe’s family ended up in a Red Cross refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after his father, a member of the Tutsi tribe, was held by the government as a political prisoner.
The family came to the United States in 2000, under a refugee resettlement program. At the time, the Tutsi tribe was the target of a campaign of genocide in that part of Africa.
Accompanying Ngarambe, his mother and aunt to court yesterday were two American women, the Rev. Ann Abernethy, a retired minister, and Jean Jones, a family friend.
Apruzzese told the judge that Ngarambe has expressed remorse since the day he was appointed to represent him in July.
Prosecutor A.J. Camelio, who had urged Lowy to send Ngarambe to prison for three to five years, told the judge that not only was the trial Ngarambe was attempting to corrupt “an extraordinarily serious case,” but that his crimes went to the core of justice.
Without impartial jurors, the prosecutor said, “we cannot have fair trials or a system of justice that can be trusted.”
“As a prosecutor, I might be frustrated with the outcome of a case, but I’ve never had a doubt that the jurors have been fair and impartial in reaching their verdict,” Camelio said.
In deciding on a lower sentence of two years in jail, the judge said he took into account that Ngarambe may not have realized the seriousness of his actions. He also noted that Ngarambe has no prior record.
During his probation, Ngarambe will be required to complete a high school equivalency degree, attend school or work, and perform 250 hours of community service.
The charges could have carried a total of up to 30 years in prison.
Three of the defendants in the gang rape trial pleaded guilty; a fourth was convicted following a trial where Ngarambe could have ended up on the jury but for a prosecutor learning that he had been seen in the lobby of the courthouse saying hello to the suspect.