Two men sentenced to 15 years in prison for officer's 2006 death

Two men convicted on charges in connection with the 2006 crash that killed a San Francisco police officer during a high-speed chase were each sentenced today to 15 years in state prison, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said.

Carl Lather, 25, and Nicholas Smith, 26, were convicted in February of manslaughter and robbery charges in connection with the July 26, 2006, killing of police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco, district attorney's spokesman Seth Steward said.

The pair was in a stolen van driven by Steven Petrilli after four robberies in The City, and struck Birco's patrol car at a speed believed to be more than 50 mph at an intersection in the Portola neighborhood.

Birco was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

Petrilli was sentenced in January to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, evading police, and gross vehicular manslaughter.

On Feb. 4, Lather and Smith agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges in connection with Birco's death. Each were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and four counts of robbery, prosecutors said.

They appeared in San Francisco Superior Court to receive the 15-year sentence today, Steward said. Members of Birco's family attended the sentencing, and Birco's father spoke to the court at the hearing.

Prosecutors said following the offer of a plea deal that Birco's family agreed with the offer and did not want to go through another trial.

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