Paul Przystal Friday was ordered to serve a prison term of 7 1/2 to 15 years for what a judge called the "unforgiveable act" of fatally shaking the 17-month-old son of two of his best friends.
Erie County Judge John V. Rogowski rebuked Przystal for what he called the "savage brutality" of his "fit of intolerable outrage" in fatally trying to calm little Paul B. Vogel in his home on Gates Avenue in Sloan on March 10, 1997.
Paul and Robin Vogel of West Seneca, the dead boy's parents and the former best friends of Przystal and his wife, told the judge the defendant has left them unable to trust anyone. They told the judge they don't know why Przystal didn't try to page them if their son was bothering him.
Przystal apologized to the Vogels and told the judge there is "not a moment that I don't think about this situation." He said he cannot explain his behavior.
In a courtroom filled with relatives of the victims and Przystal, Robert V. Convissar, the defendant's lawyer, told the judge Przystal "is not an evil man, he's a good man who did an evil thing."
Recalling how he had to stop himself from violently shaking one of his own infant children when the child's crying kept him up all night years ago, Convissar told the judge he is thankful he "stepped back" at that moment of rage. He said his client "in an instant did a horrible, tragic thing."
Przystal has been jailed since he accepted a prosecution plea deal Aug. 27 to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter in what had been a murder case.
Prosecutor Patricia Idella Carrington said Przystal was watching the Vogels' first-born child and his own two sons, then aged three and 18 months, at the time of the fatal incident.
Ms. Carrington said the plea deal spared the Vogels the trauma of having to attend a trial about the murder of their child.
Rogowski spared Przystal the maximum 25-year prison term he had faced on his guilty plea for what the judge called "a deeply troubling case and one of the most tragic chapters in the saga of child abuse" locally. But court officials said the sentence was unusually stiff for a first offender.