VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A former sailor was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for helping his Navy superior and mentor commit suicide.

Paul Stephen Bricker, 27, received a 10-year sentence in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, with five years suspended. Bricker, a petty officer second class at the time, pleaded guilty in April to voluntary manslaughter in the July 2009 death of Chief Petty Officer Gerard Curran.

Bricker testified that Curran led him to believe he was ill and asked him to help him commit suicide so his family could receive death benefits from the Navy. Bricker said he initially refused, but eventually he agreed.

Testimony revealed that Curran and Bricker met in First Landing State Park, where Curran strangled himself with a physical therapy band. When Curran passed out, Bricker stabbed him in the chest with his diving knife and fled with Curran's belongings.

Authorities originally believed it was a suicide, but later changed their minds.

Bricker, who is married with two young children, apologized to the Curran family before receiving his sentence, according to The Virginian-Pilot (

"I am deeply sorry," he said. "I wish I could take it all back."

His attorney, Suzanne Moushegian, said Bricker did not benefit from Curran's death, refusing the $5,000 Curran offered him, and he also lost his job with the Navy.

"He's being penalized for being young and naive and making big mistakes," Moushegian said. "But he is not evil. He did not do it with malice. He was trying to help."

Curran's wife, Dawn Curran, said Bricker should have reported Curran's death request.

"That's what a real friend would do," she said, reading from a prepared statement and crying. "I find assisted suicide equivalent to murder."

Curran had two sons, she said.

Judge H. Thomas Padrick agreed, giving Bricker the maximum sentence — 10 years —- with five suspended.

"No one has a right to take another's life," he said. " ... What kind of person does this?"