A Maryland judge has vacated the manslaughter conviction of Arasp Biparva, a man who pleaded guilty to sucker-punching and killing a man because a felony conviction would hinder his chances at getting a job as an accountant.
As The Washington Post reports, Biparva’s attorney, Berry Helfand, claimed that a manslaughter conviction on his client’s record would make it difficult for him to pursue his career goal of being an accountant.
“Currently the conviction will interfere with the application process and prevent Mr. Biparva from obtaining the certifications he needs to advance his career.”
Prince George’s County Judge Albert W. Northrop agreed and ordered Biparva’s conviction vacated. Further, Northrop granted Biparva “probation before judgment” – a legal maneuver that essentially means that Biparva’s arrest and guilty plea for the crime can later be expunged from his record.
As WRC-TV (Washington) reported in 2013, Arasp Biparva was a student at the University of Maryland back in March 2013 when he got into a bar fight at a Baltimore bar popular with UMD students. At about 2:00 a.m. on March 27, a brawl broke out in the bar, with about 15-20 people trading punches and shoves. Jack Godfrey, who was 21 at the time and also a University of Maryland student, was not involved in the altercation and was trying to leave, when Biparva threw a sucker punch at him, striking him in the head. As he fell to the ground, he struck his head on the pavement. The punch and fall left Godfrey with severe injuries to his face, head, and brain.
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At first, it appeared as if Godfrey might survive his injuries. He went on to endure multiple surgeries and physical therapy, and was even able to return to his studies. Biparva was charged only with second degree assault, to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and ordered to pay $19,000 in restitution.
Unfortunately, Jack Godfrey died in his sleep at his fraternity house on November 7, 2014. An autopsy would reveal that he died of a seizure, head injuries, and aseptic meningitis, all of which resulted from the fatal sucker punch Biparva threw.
On a crowdfunding campaign to raise money in his honor, Godfrey’s parents described their son as a personable and outgoing man that everyone loved.
“Hundreds showed up for a candlelight vigil in his honor with many saying Jack was friend to everyone and the most open-hearted, uplifting and positive person they have ever known, despite what he went through. When people were down, he was known for asking ‘What’s good?'”
Biparva was arrested again and charged with involuntary manslaughter. In April 2016, Biparva pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years’ probation. That conviction has now been vacated, and Biparva will soon have his record expunged; in essence, it will be as if nothing ever happened.
Godfrey’s mother, Nicola Bridges, is not convinced that her son’s killer should have his criminal record cleared just so he can get a good job as an accountant.
“My family feels like he [Biparva] shouldn’t be able to get a highflying job in finance. He should have a McDonald’s hat on his head or a janitor’s mop in his hand. Jack won’t have a career, a wife, a life.”
John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, agrees.
“Those injuries were caused by the punch that Mr. Biparva threw. We felt that because somebody actually lost their life, this was a conviction that needed to stay with Mr. Biparva for the rest of his life.”
Do you believe that Arasp Biparva should have had his manslaughter conviction overturned because his conviction was hindering his chances at getting a job?
[Featured Image by Prince George’s County Police]