New Jersey Man Gets Probation in Brother’s Death

A man who will have to live with the actions that caused his brother’s death in Stroudsburg in 2011 was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation.

Kyle Risko, 29, of Stewartsville, N.J., was sentenced after turning himself in to authorities in May and later pleading guilty to vehicular homicide and tampering with/fabricating physical evidence in the death of his older brother, William Risko, 29, of Stroudsburg.

“This is such a sad case,” Monroe County Court Judge Jennifer Sibum told a somber Kyle Risko as his tearful family sat behind him. “It’s just heartbreaking, such grief and sadness. I don’t know what’s worse for you: facing these charges or going through what you’re going through emotionally on a daily basis.”

Though Risko’s family did not speak in court at his sentencing, relatives and friends had sent Sibum letters speaking in support of his character.

This case is the only time Risko has ever been in trouble with the law, according to court records. His family’s letters say he has always been a productive citizen, and said he has again found employment since this tragedy.

“I drink maybe only a couple times a month, when I’m watching a game with friends or something,” he said when asked how often he drinks.

Police said beer was found in the Stroudsburg hotel room the Risko brothers had rented hours prior to William Risko’s death on the morning of March 20, 2011, the day of the borough’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“Your mother in her letter says you and your brothers had all lived good, decent lives,” Sibum said. “Until that morning when you decided it would be fun and appropriate to carry on the way you did. Unfortunately, this was the result.”

Sibum told Risko she was imposing a sentence that will not stymie him for the rest of his life, but at the same time remind him how easily bad choices can end in tragedy.

“You’re not allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages while on probation,” she said, to which Risko nodded.

Both the prosecution and defense agree a probationary sentence in this case was appropriate, noting that having to live with the knowledge that he killed his brother was punishment in itself.

A tape from a surveillance camera outside a nearby business showed Risko was driving a 2008 Ford Explorer from an alley onto North Eighth Street, with William Risko hanging from the vehicle’s exterior driver’s side, police said.

William fell onto the road as the Explorer headed south on North Eighth Street toward Main Street. The Explorer stopped, then backed up over William, crushing his head, and stopped again, police said.

The Explorer did a K-turn and pulled up next to William’s body. Kyle got out, checked on William, then got back into the vehicle and pulled back into the alley he had driven out from, police said.

Kyle returned on foot to where William’s body was in the road, then went back into the alley, then returned and stayed with the body until police arrived.

Police said Kyle appeared intoxicated when they interviewed him. Police said Kyle claimed he and William got separated after leaving their hotel room, and that he later came across William dead in a pool of blood on North Eighth Street.

Police said they again interviewed Kyle days later, after reviewing the surveillance tape, and that he admitted what had really happened. Kyle said William tried to keep him from driving under the influence by hanging onto the vehicle’s exterior driver’s side.

He said William fell onto the road and that he didn’t know he then backed over William until afterward. Kyle recalled being “scared and confused” and not knowing what to do, police said.

Police said reconstructing the incident and waiting for Kyle’s blood and toxicology test results factored into the length of time it took to charge Kyle Risko.