YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) — Alex New told a judge Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that he was not planning on killing an East Side man he wanted to rob in July of 2017.
Speaking via video from the county jail during his sentencing on involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery charges, New, 23, told Judge Maureen Sweeney that he saw a figure in the dark and fired at it while he was in an East Side home with two accomplices he recruited with the promise of gold bars for their work.
Instead, New said he ran, and when he came back the next day, he found Marion Bugdal, 52, dead in the kitchen of his Bennington Avenue home, a home that had been heavily damaged a few days before by a fire.
“I fired in the dark because I heard footsteps,” New said. “I didn’t murder him on purpose.”
New was sentenced to nine years by Judge Sweeney for the death of Bugdal, who was found a few days after he was killed July 6, 2017, in his home.
The case took a long time to resolve because two co-defendants were both ruled incompetent to stand trial. One of those men had his competency restored and pleaded guilty, but it was not clear if he would have been able to testify against New if prosecutors needed him.
Assistant Prosecutor Rob Andrews argued for a sentence of 10 years, which was the maximum under a plea agreement reached with defense lawyer Lou DeFabio, who was the second lawyer on the case for New.
Andrews said that New deserved the maximum sentence of the plea agreement because he recruited two mentally-incompetent men to help him rob Bugdal, and Bugdal wound up being killed.
Bugdal, who was a regular at downtown soup kitchens and made the long trek daily from his East Side home to downtown on foot, had complained in the weeks before his death that he was being harassed by some young men in his neighborhood. Police tried to investigate the complaints before Bugdal ended up being killed.
For some reason that has never been explained, New and his accomplices thought that Bugdal had gold bars in his home. Andrews said New promised his two accomplices that if they helped them, he would give them some of the gold that was supposed to be there.
“That would be the reward if they helped him,” Andrews said.
“He was aware the whole time what was going to happen,” Andrews added. “Did he plan a murder? I don’t know about that. He was the mastermind behind this.”
DeFabio asked for an eight-year sentence. He said the case could have been settled earlier when prosecutors offered a seven-year sentence before the second defendant had his competency restored, but New nixed that agreement after what DeFabio said was a miscommunication between New and his former lawyer. He said if prosecutors were prepared to offer seven years then, nothing in the case had changed to justify a stiffer sentence except for the fact that New turned down the previous plea.
“This case, from a lawyer’s perspective, is kind of a train wreck,” DeFabio said.
DeFabio also pointed out that New accepted responsibility, and he has a minimal criminal record.
“There’s no evidence here that anybody ever planned a murder,” DeFabio said.
New was also given credit for 1,229 days in jail he has served while awaiting the disposition of his case.