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Jacquetta Simmons’s sentence is officially reduced. She will serve one year in county jail.

The Batavia woman convicted of punching elderly Wal-Mart worker Grace Suozzi of Batavia on Christmas Eve three years ago was re-sentenced this afternoon in County Court by Judge Robert Noonan.

The one-year county jail sentence was expected after an appellate judge last week upheld her second-degree assault conviction, but overturned the original five-year state prison sentence handed down by Judge Noonan back in November 2012. Simmons was sentenced under New York’s so-called “Granny Law” which makes it felony to injure a person over the age of 65. Suozzi was 70 at the time.

The appellate court deemed the sentence too harsh. Judge Noonan today imposed the same recommended sentence saying, “I have no discretion to modify their sentence.”

Simmons’s attorneys, Earl Key and Ann Nichols agree.

“It’s very unusual for a first-time offender to receive a sentence of five years incarceration,” Nichols said. “It just doesn’t happen all that often. I looked at the data myself. I talked to [state prison] – that is almost unheard of. I would say that the original result maybe was not in line with community standards across the state.”

“Ms. Nichols did a lot of research,” Key said. “We looked at cases on – not the exact same crime – but a Class D violent felony with someone who had no prior run-ins with the law, no criminal history, was in college. There’s never been a case that we could find and the district attorney’s office sure didn’t refute what we said in the paperwork where someone has ever gotten five years as a first-time offense. Anywhere.”

Key and Nichols dismissed the notion that a state appellate judge would be out of touch with a particular place’s community standards that could influence a sentence.

“Should decisions be made based on the victim’s character or who the victim is?” Key asked. “So somebody who was less popular in the community, or somebody who wasn’t as affluent in the community -- then the sentence should have been less, but because Grace is who she is then the sentence should be harsher? That’s absurd.”

“I don’t think anybody has really taken into account what we have been trying to get people to notice since the beginning: Jacquetta Simmons had absolutely no criminal history, she worked, she was not on public assistance, she has no C.P.S (Child Protective Services) cases and what everybody in this community that we’re talking about has painted her out to be…They don’t know who Jacquetta Simmons is and I think quite frankly they didn’t care to know who she was,” Nichols said.

Simmons is expected to pay $100 a month to reach about $2,000 in restitution. Key says they plan to file a notice of appeal on that portion of the decision.

“She has to pay restitution for things like high blood pressure medication and things of that nature for a woman who admittedly never went to the doctor for years prior,” Key said. “One of our arguments was – and still is – you don’t know she didn’t have high blood pressure before this incident. She wasn’t seen by a medical professional.”

Key says the appellate court judge did not necessarily even agree with the conviction that it was an intentional punch.

“The judge did not say that they disagreed with her,” Keys said. “What they did say was they weren’t going to substitute their judgment for the jury. Judge (Rose) Sconiers, after watching the video (of the incident) did say she would vote to overturn the entire conviction.”

Simmons’s defense and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman did not know her time-served, but with good behavior, Simmons is expected to be released before the year is up.

Three days after Simmons was sent to state prison at the end of November 2012, a six-month stay was issued for Simmons’s prison term. $50,000 bond was posted for Simmons pending the appeal in mid-December of that year.

Simmons was far along in her pregnancy at the time of her original sentence.

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# Greg
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:46 PM
Let me get this straight: We are expected to believe that if the perpetrator worked and wasn't on public assistance, that she deserves leniency? Does that mean that anyone who does the same crime, if unemployed and/or on pubic assistance, is more worthy of five years in prison than this woman? While I agree that five years is harsh, so too are 40 and 60 year terms for drug possessors. This woman committed a violent act against someone. I have no sympathy for her just because she wasn't on public assistance. Give her a year, but don't base it on the fact that she was not unemployed.
# rick
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 3:46 PM
its scary to be white anymore
# shannon Staats
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 6:13 PM
I still don't understand how her financial status deserves even a question. I do not care if she was on assistance or not and whether or not she has a criminal record. SHE HIT AN OLDER PERSON and deserves what she gets no matter what. So because I work and pay my bills on time and have no felonies in my past I can go assault someone? Come on people, for once this was a cut and dry issue.
# wendell
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 9:56 PM
Do any of you people that think this woman should do 5 years, know that people who have committed murder have done less time then that. if it was a relative of yours, You all would be singing a different tune. The lady is doing just fine now. Get over it and stop complaining.
# will simmons
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:26 PM
So if I read this right, her sentence was reduced because she didn't have any prior convictions, she had a job and wasn't on public assistance, AND no one before her had gotten a 5 year sentence. OK, she hit a 70 year old woman. I say anyone that does that gets 5 years and someone has to be the first one to get the 5 year sentence. It's a heinous crime and deserves a severe punishment. Lock her back up.
# David
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:33 AM
I think the Judges we now days are as lame as the people we have running this country. I'd have let that bitch spend that five years in Jail. So what if she isn't working or whatever the hell her problem was. Wrong is wrong. I don't have a job but you don't see me going around committing crimes.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:39 AM
Check this...
Simmons, now 27, said she had no idea she even hit Suozzi until hours later. She said she was horrified to learn she had injured Suozzi and it's been a painful realization ever since...

No matter what happens ... we all PAY for HER and HER soon-to-come child.
How many kids... on the welfare wagon now??
# Papa Paul
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:51 AM
I think life would have been to good for the witch. She has no respect for her elders or any one else it seems. It would do that POS good to go to prison and learn what respect is.
# AA Professor
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 7:50 AM
First, the court should order retired boxer Laila Ali to punch her in the head one time and end this entire case, now that would be fair!
Secondly, WOW! some commentors are very incapacitated mentally... the sentence reduction was based on previous cases where no first time convicted felon of a class d offense has ever recieved the maxium sentence. She is a first time offender. This is the problem with the criminal justice system today... for blacks!
It's a fact blacks and minoritis recieve more intense sentences than whites for the same crimes committed. This is just another example... and the response will be... "You racist"! or "Don't you got a black president"!....but facts remain!
# bud
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 7:51 AM
Doesn't matter if you are 7 or 70. Assault and Battery is a Felony. She should have gotten the term that was handed down before the appeal.
Ms. Simmons may want to think before she hits next time. Stay out of the Walmart Stores.
# Maria
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:08 AM
You are focusing on the wrong thing. They reduced her sentence because she had no priors and no history of violence. It was completely unjust to give her the maximum time because of who the person was in the community. She deserves to go to jail , but not for 5 years for assault. That sentence was definitely excessive. The article mentions that people who didn't know her, only heard about the case, and knew the elderly lady that was assaulted assumed she was on public assistance, had C.P.S cases, and didn't have a job. The article didn't say that her sentenced was reduced because she had a job and wasn't on assistance.
# Sam
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:26 AM
Maria is the only one here who understood the comments, the article and the implications of the sentencing. Thank you for actually being thoughtful and cool-headed about an emotional topic. Maria was exactly right in everything she said.

A comment thread rarity.
# Alain
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:55 AM
I too hit a person in his mid-70's but in self defense, and he hit the back of his head on a supermarket shelf when falling back onto the floor; he had a deep cut at the back of his head that gushed blood. I remained at the scene as workers called 911 for police, and I was arrested although I had been sucker-punched in the face first, hence, knocking my eyeglasses off to the floor! Although I was 69 at the time, one of the arresting cops told me that the 'winner goes to jail'. Three mos. later the misdemeanor assault case was dismissed due to the 'victim' not appearing in court.
# hal
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:35 PM
I think all employees at Walmart should be punched in the face.
# Hersh
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 3:15 PM
Another black on white hate crime not reported correctly. But when the white young man hit the elderly black man they are trying to give him 40 years. gender, job, shouldn't matter. Don't be hitting people.
# joe blow
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:34 PM
you should not judge the case by employed or not prior convictions should be considered and first and most important the victoms age should not make any difference the punishment should be the same if they are 20 or 70
# Bradley Thomas
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:09 PM
did this violet person have a receipt or not?
# allen
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:30 PM
Even 5 years isn't enough for this getto trash. The law is the law , if you don't want to go to jail don't commit a crime. Letting people off with a slap on the wrist is why they do it again and also why people take the law into there own hands to make these people pay .
# Charlie
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:46 PM
At the age of 63 I have worked in the public all of my life. I had two job when I was 14 years old. It is not white or black people today are so rude and self-indulgent most of them deserved to be smacked in the face before the ever walk into any store. People, we are here trying to serve you within the restraints placed upon us by our employers. If you want to go after someone go after the management. We are only doing our job within the limits given us. If it weren't for you we wouldn't be here. We can only do what those above allow us to do. We love you, don't blame us. I am Just a daily sales associate.
# Charmita
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:52 PM
I think her sentencing was fair but not because of her non-criminal record & I don't understand why someone said, "It's scary to be white anymore...what does that mean???
# Genelle
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 10:35 PM
That winch should had gotten the full 5 years. This is not a racial issue but a moral & respect issue. If this was done to her mother she would be singing a different tune & would've wanted the same for her. The fact is that people have no respect for others & it doesn't matter if you're black or white. What goes around comes around...
# Tebo
Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:39 AM
You are right! Hersh. "Don't be hitting people."
Otherwise it might be self-righteous, and that (!) has consequences.

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