posted on November 14, 2012 12:14
Jacquetta Simmons, the woman who punched a Wal-Mart worker in Batavia last Christmas Eve, was sentenced to five years in prison today in County Court. Judge Robert Noonan also added three years of post-release supervision.
Grace Suozzi took the stand at the sentencing this morning to portray how much her life has changed as a result of this incident. She says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has high blood pressure, and has yet to be medically cleared to work almost a year later. Suozzi says she left her will and other legal papers for her family on the dresser, fearing she could pass away in the night.
Read Suozzi’s statement here.
Several family members wrote in support for a now-pregnant-Simmons, who has a college degree and no prior criminal history. The defense was aiming for a probation sentence. One defense attorney personally said she had no impression that Simmons was racist.
This is Simmons’ only statement today: “I just want to say that I’m truly sorry that this has happened and I hate that Grace and her family have had to ensure all that they’re going through right now.”
Ultimately Judge Noonan said Simmons had never expressed sympathy or remorse.
“The defense tried to characterize some things that defendant said in the pre-sentence investigation as indicating remorse, but I don’t think anything could be further from the truth," District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said. "She absolutely did not accept any responsibility for what she did.”
“As the judge indicated, there were a lot of glowing letters on behalf of the defendant written by her friends and family and acquaintances," Friedman said. "And it is hard to reconcile that with what happened in this case. It does, it sounds like two different people.”
Suozzi asked Simmons to show a receipt for items she was taking through the check-out line on Christmas Eve of last year.
A surveillance video showed 70-year-old Suozzi being thrown across the floor by the force of Simmons’ punch -- who is significantly larger and younger than Suozzi .
Judge Noonan called Simmons’ action an “unusual first criminal offense” and called it “absolutely beyond bizarre” that Simmons did not simply produce the receipt, which she possessed.
Two high school classmates and life long friends of of Suozzi's spoke after the sentencing
“She has suffered and we’ve seen it," one said. "She’s become reclusive. She has no radio, no television; she turns nothing on. Her solace is going to the backyard and digging weeds because she just will not go in public. So terrified. And it has affected her life greatly.”
“It has changed her personality as far as her emotions and all that," said another fellow Batavia High School Class of '60 alumnus. "It’s difficult for her to be around crowds, and it’s difficult for her to see anything on the news media. But she has never done anything or said anything negative. She’s always been a positive, religious person. As short as she is, we all look up to her.”
There is a restitution hearing set for later this month.
Simmons is due to give birth next month.