Hike sentence

Stratford man gets 60 years in prison for Bridgeport murder

BRIDGEPORT — A Stratford man, who was released from prison in 2011 after serving 25 years for a home invasion, was sentenced to 60 years on Tuesday for fatally shooting a Bridgeport man during a drug deal in 2017.

In May, after a day and a half of deliberation, a 12-member jury found Lonnie Mebane, 57, guilty of murder with a firearm, criminal use of a firearm and possession of a weapon without permit for the fatal 2017 shooting of 19-year-old Eric Diaz.

“The (original) 25-year sentence was simply not enough and did not deter Mr. Mebane from committing heinous crimes,” Superior Court Judge Alex Hernandez said. “There is a need to protect the public from Mr. Mebane.”

During the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Diaz’s mother started talking, then left the courtroom sobbing.

“I wasn’t the best father,” the victim’s father, Eric Diaz Sr., told Mebane, “but you totally ruined any future I had with my son.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Colleen Zingaro, who prosecuted the case with Edward Lee Miller, told the judge that Diaz’s death was a premeditated and deliberate act.

“It’s easy to say that the young man was involved in the drug trade and has no value, but he had a family who loved him very much,” she said.

Mebane was charged with shooting Diaz on September 14, 2017 during a drug deal in Mebane’s car at Newfield Avenue and Beardsley Street.

Police said Mebane arranged to buy heroin from Diaz. Shortly after 10 p.m., he drove to the intersection in his father’s Nissan sedan and waited. Diaz walked up to the car and sat in the front passenger seat. Police said witnesses heard a single gunshot and saw Diaz get out of the car and struggle to get away before collapsing on the sidewalk.

In 2011, Mebane was released from prison after serving a 25-year prison sentence.

A mother and her two young sons were sleeping in their McPadden Drive home in Stratford on October 20, 1985, when police said Mebane burst into the house with a knife in each hand.

He repeatedly stabbed the 6-year-old boy and when the mother tried to intervene, police said Mebane grabbed her, threw her on a bed, ripped her pajamas and bit her chest. When the 11-year-old tried to protect his mother, Mebane stabbed him. He then fled, police said.

Mebane was found guilty of numerous burglary and assault charges.

After his release from prison, police said Mebane moved in with his 90-year-old father in Stratford. In August 2017, Mebane took his father to a local store where the elderly man bought two handguns, police said.

Police say acquaintances of Mebane told detectives that Mebane intended to rob someone.