By Peter A. Sutters Jr.
Lorna Laidlaw, 42 of 94-14 212th St. in Queens Village, pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to first-degree manslaughter in the March 2004 shooting death of Jose Hernandez, 58, of Ridgewood, a former boyfriend, whom she worked with at the city Human Resources Administration, according to Laidlaw's lawyer and the DA.Laidlaw's lawyer, Bert Nisonoff, said the two had stopped dating three years prior to the shooting and the relationship had nothing to do with the killing.”He was there to do some repairs and decided to tell her how to live her life,” Nisonoff said in December after Laidlaw had pleaded guilty. “What she should do, what she shouldn't do. Before you know it, she just snapped.” Queens Supreme Justice Dorothy Chin-Brant handed down the 20-year sentence on Jan. 19.”The defendant took the life of another person using an illegal handgun,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown in a statement. “The lengthy prison sentence imposed by the court is just punishment.” The sentence was part of a plea bargain that reduced the charge from second-degree murder to manslaughter, according to Nisonoff. He said that charge carried a 25-year-to-life sentence.”I would have liked to do better, but it was probably fair,” said Nisonoff.Laidlaw was arrested in May after she told a friend about the incident before attempting to kill herself, police said. The friend contacted Laidlaw's attorney with the information. The lawyer got in touch with the police, who arrived at the Laidlaw's home to find Hernandez in a black garbage bag wrapped in tape in a basement storage compartment of the building, the DA said. The medical examiner concluded that Hernandez had sustained a number of gunshot wounds to the head, cheek, and left arm. His body had been in the basement storage compartment for two months before being discovered, according to police.Laidlaw is currently being held at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island until the state determines where she will serve her sentence, according to the Department of Corrections.Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.