Friend of slain drummer, prosecutor rap killer's approval for work release

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Eric Langlais watches as the courtroom empties while his defense attorney Richard Samdperil looks on during the Nov. 1, 2017, sentencing. (Rochester Voice file photo)

The man who killed Bang N Jane drummer Jim Unfonak with a single punch to the head three years ago is already getting a taste of freedom, currently enjoying days out of prison on work release, a source with close ties to the victim told The Rochester Voice this week.

In fact, Eric Langlais, 44, who was sentenced in November 2017 to three and a half years, could be paroled as early as five months from today, a fact that is even more infuriating for the source, who asked not to be identified for this story.

"I'm more angry about the shortness of his sentence," the source said. "But I do believe he should have to serve it all before getting out. He didn't get what he deserved."

"Jimmy Unfonak was Bang N Jane," a longtime bandmate said shortly after his death. (Courtesy photo)

Deputy Strafford County Attorney Tim Sullivan, who prosecuted the case, agrees. He argued against work release during a court hearing last October and for a much stiffer sentence during trial.

"We objected to the work release because of the seriousness of the crime that cost a life," Sullivan said on Friday. "The state felt he should serve the entire sentence behind walls given the violent nature of the crime."

Unfonak, 44, was mortally wounded after Langlais punched him in the face in the parking lot of the former Gary's Sports Bar early the morning of Jan. 31, 2016. After being struck under the chin the longtime Bang N Jane drummer fell to the ground hitting his head on the packed snow and ice.

He was taken first to Frisbie Memorial Hospital and then to Maine Medical Center in Portland, but never regained consciousness. Doctors confirmed he had suffered severe brain damage, and he was taken off life support the following day.

Langlais was indicted on manslaughter charges, which would've drawn a 15-30 year sentence, but the jury came back with the lesser charge of negligent homicide, which Sullivan at the time attributed to a collective mindset that a person couldn't be killed by a single punch.

After Unfonak was struck he fell heavily to the ground hitting his head on the ice-encrusted pavement at the former Milton Road sport bar.

Several witnesses testified during the grueling eight-day trial that the sharp cracking sound of Unfonak's head hitting the pavement was something that would haunt them the rest of their lives.

The source who alerted The Rochester Voice that Langlais was being allowed work release also said the fact Unfonak had a history of violence should've played a role in the judge's work release decision.

"Never mind the fact he killed someone," they said. "He has a history of violence; that should have some bearing, too."

It came to the public light during his sentencing hearing that in 2004 Langlais was convicted of second degree assault for breaking the rib of his four-month-old child.

Reference was also made to the confrontation Langlais had with a patron at a Dover tavern earlier in the day before coming to Gary's where he killed Unfonak.

Both facts were prohibited from being brought forward during trial.

Sue Erickson, the mother of Kelsey Mountain, Unfonak's longtime girlfriend, called Langlais a "monster" during her victim impact statement at the Nov. 1, 2017, sentencing.

"This monster has hurt too many people," Erickson said. "I'm begging you to give him the maximum, he's a killer."

The source also found it ironic that Unfonak was even able to work given that he himself, admitted, he was on disability during the time when he killed Unfonak.

Sullivan said he expects there will be a hearing at the prison sometime this summer to determine if Langlais is eligible for parole on Aug 9, his earliest parole date.

Prison officials, including Langlais' counselor, chose not to respond to several calls from The Rochester Voice for comment for this story.

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