Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sentencing Answer Revealed

Today was the sentencing day. What's that? You don't remember what you were even waiting for? Here's the post to remind you of the case.

But a quick recap of the facts: 

The 16 year old male defendant was a member of a neighborhood gang and entered rival gang territory. He saw a 17 year old female who is associated with the rival gang. They argued and the defendant pulled out a fully loaded revolver while surrounded by seven of his friends. He pointed the gun at the victim's head from three feet away and pulled the trigger. The gun did not go off, which caused the defendant to look at the gun and point it at her head again, pulling the trigger twice more with the same result. The defendant ran away and so did the victim who was unharmed.

The police watched the surveillance video depicting the above events and arrested the defendant 20 minutes later, still in possession of the revolver. The revolver is tested and determined that it works, but the ammo in the gun was not the correct ammo. The gun will fire with that ammo, but not every time the trigger is pulled. It all depended whether the ammo lined up properly in the cylinder when the defendant tried to fire it.

The defendant confessed to the crime, but said he blacked out when he pulled the gun out.

The defendant pleaded guilty to a class B felony and a class C felony, the highest charges he was charged with. The defendant has no prior record and a very involved family.

Possible Sentence:

The defendant is eligible for Youthful Offender adjudication (due to his age), which means the judge can seal his conviction and sentence him to as low as probation and as high as 4 years in jail if given this. The judge can also sentence him without Youthful Offender status and sentence him as an adult, without sealing the case, to anywhere between 5 and 25 years in jail.

Many of you sent your thoughts to me and they ranged from sympathy for the accused and hoping he would get the help he needs to turn his life around to 25 years (the maximum). Some emails provided thoughtful analysis that balanced the need for punishment with the need for rehabilitation, knocking time off for good behavior. Most chose the middle of the road, in the 10 to 15 year range.

In our case, both the prosecution and defense submitted pre-sentencing memos regarding their thoughts on youthful offender adjudication and today the judge ruled. This case was one of the most contested sentencing arguments I have been a part of.

The judge denied youthful offender treatment, but gave the defendant the minimum sentence as an adult of 5 years in jail. Both sides walked away unhappy, which probably means it was the correct sentence.


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  1. I am just amazed once more at how lucky both of them are that the gun did not go off. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. If I remember correctly, in NYS a prisoner serves 2/3rds of their sentence, so that is around 3.3 years. Does he also get credit for the time he served before being sentenced? On the other hand, at the age of sixteen, five years in prison must seem like forever. And he will be learning how to become an adult from other prisoners. I just keep going back to thinking about how he attempted to fire at point-blank range, failed, and then tried two more times. Hard to argue he deserves any leniency, but he will be released one day, so maybe this really was the best sentence in the long run.

    1. NY State prisoners serve 7/8 of their sentence. Local and county prisoners serve 2/3 of theirs. And they all get credit for time already served.