PORT ALLEN — A man pleaded guilty Monday to shooting and wounding a state trooper in 2011 and delivered a tearful apology to the trooper’s family as well as to his own family.
During the apology, 18th District Judge Robin Free told William Belniak to go and shake the hand of the trooper he shot in the head as well as of the trooper’s wife.
Belniak stepped over and shook the hands of State Trooper Kevin Biddy and his wife, Nicole Biddy, who easily accepted the gesture.
Free sentenced Belniak, 23, to 28 years in prison with no possibility of parole or probation in the May 4, 2011, shooting of Biddy.
Biddy survived the bullet wound to his head and was released from a hospital less than 12 hours after the incident.
“I made a terrible decision that affected the lives of many people,” Belniak read from a prepared statement during his apology. “I’m sorry for all the drama I put this town through. There’s not much I can do now but serve my time. This has opened my eyes to the world.”
Belniak, of Burlington, Conn., shot Biddy in the head after the state trooper pulled him over on suspicion of drinking while intoxicated about 2:30 a.m. at La. 1 and Avenue G in Port Allen.
According to reports, Belniak resisted arrest during the stop and a fight ensued between the two men.
Biddy was able to call for backup during the struggle.
Belniak broke away from the trooper and ran to his 2002 Honda Civic to retrieve a revolver.
Biddy chased Belniak, and the two struggled over the gun.
During the fight, Belniak fired a round, striking Biddy in the head. The bullet traveled through the trooper’s skin without piercing his skull.
As Biddy lay on the ground, Belniak stood over him, poised to shoot the trooper again when two West Baton Rouge Parish rookie deputies arrived and shot Belniak twice in the midsection.
Free sentenced Belniak from the bench shortly after Biddy’s wife tearfully told Belniak she forgave him for his attempt to murder her husband.
“I wish nothing bad on you,” Nicole Biddy said Monday as she brushed away tears from her eyes. “I wish you and your family wouldn’t have to go through this like mine. We have grown as a family (and) I hope within the past two years you have grown also.”
Free told Belniak he hopes his time in prison will make him a better man.
“There is no way to fix this,” Free said. “You really need to think about what you did to your own family, too. You think you see clear today? Wait five years down the road … the older you get the clearer things become.”
Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton had asked the court to sentence Belniak to 50 years in prison — the maximum amount allowed by state law for attempted first-degree murder.
“This is not the first time he has been in trouble. Thirty years is not enough,” Clayton said. “He came at a law enforcement officer.”
At the time of his arrest, Belniak was the primary suspect in a string of home burglaries in Ascension Parish, authorities have said.
Investigators searched Belniak’s car after the shooting and found a shotgun, ammunition, narcotics, a laptop computer, jewelry and the .357-caliber Magnum revolver used in the shooting.