PORTLAND — A Portland man was sentenced Thursday to 38 years in prison for gunning down a former friend in the entryway of their apartment building in Parkside last year.

Daudoit Butsitsi, 25, was convicted in July of murdering his roommate and once-close friend, 24-year-old Serge Mulongo. Butsitsi shot Mulongo six times as Mulongo left the apartment building on the night of Feb. 10, 2010.

The sentence imposed by Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton was less than the 45 years sought by the prosecution. Horton cited mitigating factors, including Butsitsi’s age and his lack of a prior criminal history beyond a drunken-driving conviction.

Murder carries a minimum sentence of 25 years — the term recommended by the defense — and a maximum of life in prison.

Butsitsi, Mulongo and their families came from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Horton spoke of how seriously the murder had affected the men’s community, noting that members had attended the trial and sent letters urging him to deliver justice. “I can’t help but feel this incident has torn a hole in the fabric of the community,” Horton said.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea read from a letter sent by Bokolo Ndabwe, a friend of the Mulongo family. Ndabwe wrote that Butsitsi broke the law and that his case should be used as an example to their community.

“When coming here to America, we were told to obey the laws of the land. And Butsitsi clearly disobeyed … the law and disrespected the Constitution of this great nation, the United States of America,” Zainea read.

The prosecution had described Mulongo’s murder as an execution-style killing that Butsitsi planned as revenge for acts of disrespect, including two violent incidents earlier on the day of the shooting.

The defense had maintained that Butsitsi feared Mulongo’s propensity for violence and was armed to protect himself when he went to retrieve his belongings from their apartment.

Butsitsi testified during his trial that he fired when he saw a gun in Mulongo’s hand. No gun was found on Mulongo’s body, but he did have a glass pipe in his left hand.

Anthony Sineni, Butsitsi’s court-appointed lawyer, argued on Thursday that his client’s perception of the violence between him and Mulongo may not seem rational to the average American but should be viewed in light of his background.

Butsitsi, who was 13 when he left his native country, was exposed to much violence and was accustomed to law enforcement not getting involved in personal conflicts, he said.

Butsitsi stood by his lawyer, with his eyes downcast and his hands curled on the table in front of him as the judge explained the determination of his sentence. Butsitsi’s face did not betray any change in emotion when Horton announced his prison term.

Butsitsi briefly addressed the court before he was sentenced. He expressed condolences to Mulongo’s family and acknowledged that his own was hurting and disappointed in him. He reiterated that he feared Mulongo.

“I didn’t want him to take my life away. That’s why I had a gun on me that night,” he said. “I didn’t plan on any of this to happen.”

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