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Judge tells three in New Milford horseplay shooting death of friend to take plea deals by Monday or go to trial

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

ONLY ON CVP: Three men involved in the accidental shooting death of a friend during horseplay behind a New Milford housing complex have until Monday to make plea deals or go to trial.

Presiding Superior Judge Susan J. Steele set the deadline after hearing from Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer and attorneys for Aaron McMorris of Hackensack and Nicholas Questel of East Orange, both 23, and 22-year old Byron Sankar, also of East Orange.

All are free to work out their own deals in the death of Alex Bridge, 22, also of New Milford, who was struck when a .9mm handgun Sankar was horsing around with went off, authorities said after Monday’s brief hearing.

McMorris ( above, back turned ) has been offered probation for giving false information to police and Sankar, who pulled the trigger, a minimum of 10 years.

Questel ( above, right ) — who authorities said sold Sankar the gun — may never make it to trial: Federal authorities are deporting him to his native Trinidad and Tobago.

Bridge was partying with McMorris, Questel, Sankar and Sankar’s wife outside the rear of the Brookchester Apartments Aug. 3, 2013 when Sankar pulled out the gun to show the others, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time.

Sankar “handled the weapon in such a reckless manner that it discharged,” the prosecutor said.

The bullet hit Bridge in the abdomen.

McMorris fled along with Sankar but returned to the scene and called police to try and get help for their friend, authorities said.

Police found Bridge’s body in the parking lot of the nearby New Milford Estates housing complex on Reichelt Road. He was taken to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, where he died.

The gun was never recovered.

Sankar remained held in the Bergen County Jail on $450,000 bail, down from an original $1 million, on charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, endangering an incapacitated victim, two counts of hindering and one of illegal handgun possession.

Questel was in federal custody on a drug trafficking conviction. McMorris was free on bail.

STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

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