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Family of slain NBCUniversal executive says prison time warranted

September 14, 2011 | 12:44 pm

David Andrew Armstrong

The family of slain NBCUniversal executive Brian Russell Kaplon said Wednesday they think the Porter Ranch man who fatally shot him should serve prison time but even that would not bring them a sense of closure.

Businessman David Armstrong pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the March 18 slaying.

Kaplon's family made their first extended comments Wednesday outside the San Fernando courthouse, following Armstrong's appearance.

They expressed anger and disappointment that Armstrong and his wife had "shown no remorse" and not apologized for what their lawyer had characterized as a "tragic accident."

They also refuted the suggestion that Kaplon and Armstrong were close friends and were critical of state law that allowed Armstrong to keep a "military-style" assault rifle at his home.

"The question for her [the judge] and for us is, what is my son's life worth?" said patriarch Joe Kaplon. "My son's not coming back and I cry about it every day."

Brian Kaplon's widow, Kristie Kaplon, said she had been close to Armstrong's wife since childhood, but she refuted defense attorney Jim Blatt's characterization that Armstrong and Kaplon were close friends.

She said Armstrong should have to "go away from his family," noting her husband would never come home to her or their three children under the age of 3 -- two of them fraternal twins born after his death.

"Justice is never going to be served for me or my children," she said of the man she met at 18 and with whom she shared seven years of marriage.

Kaplon, who worked in the finance department at NBCUniversal, was described by friends and co-workers as affable and creative. About a dozen friends accompanied the family to Wednesday's court hearing.

Authorities said that on St. Patrick's Day, Kalplon had gone to Armstrong's gated Porter Ranch home for a haircut. Armstrong was showing Kaplon an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in the garage of his home when the weapon discharged.

Armstrong was arrested on suspicion of murder after allegedly making conflicting statements about the shooting.

Blatt argued the shooting was a tragic accident involving two friends. He said they had been drinking and laughing before the shooting and there was no sign of "a disagreement or anger."

He said his client "can't take the bullet back" but was "sincerely remorseful for what has happened."

Prosecutors originally charged Armstrong, who worked as an executive at his father-in-law's foam packaging business, with murder. With that charge, he had faced the possibility of 35 years to life in prison.

With Armstrong's plea to involuntary manslaughter, he could be sentenced in November to probation or as much as 14 years in state prison.


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Photo: David Armstrong, left, with attorney Jim Blatt. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.