Judge: Greenfield man's sentence for shooting ex-girlfriend not deserved
By Margaret Harding
Published: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Patricia Delacruz said she thought her head was going to explode as she listened to an Allegheny County judge tell her ex-boyfriend that he doesn't believe the Greenfield man deserved a mandatory five-year sentence for shooting her twice.
“How can you believe he deserves less than that?” Delacruz, 35, of Penn Hills said Wednesday after a hearing before Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani.
“He tried to kill me. It makes no sense.”
Following sentencing guidelines, Mariani sent Rishi Pandey, 42, of Greenfield to prison for five to 10 years after finding him guilty of aggravated assault.
Mariani declined to comment after the hearing.
“I cannot show you the mercy you ask for,” he told Pandey. “The law does not permit it.”
Pandey's lawyer, Joseph Paletta, said the case was a “tragic situation for everybody involved.”
Pandey cried as he told the judge he has lost everything in his life because of what he said was an accident.
“I made a mistake, your honor,” Pandey said. “Please forgive me.”
Pandey called Delacruz in tears on April 26, 2011, and begged her to come over with the promise that he would leave her alone afterward, according to a criminal complaint.
She said Pandey told her when she arrived that he was going to shoot her, then himself. He shot her twice, once in an arm and once in the chest, and waited more than two hours before calling 911.
“I felt myself dying,” Delacruz said. “I thought that was it for me, that my life was going to end because he decided it was going to end.”
Before Delacruz spoke at the hearing, Mariani said that for the first time in his more than six years as a judge, he didn't believe the mandatory sentence was necessary.
“He was a man completely lost in his emotions who did something really, really stupid,” Mariani said. “But he's not a cold-blooded killer.”
The District Attorney's Office refused to reconsider seeking the mandatory five years.
“We strongly believe that the evidence indicates his intent was to kill her,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. “That's why we were adamant about mandatory sentencing in this case.”
After the shooting, Delacruz said she suffered through months of physical therapy and said she still has nightmares.
“I have to see the scars every day, but the emotional ones I know will never go away,” Delacruz told the judge. “I'm scared for my life that the day he gets out, he's going to finish what he started.”
Fear is a factor for victims even after sentencing in some cases, said Tracey Provident, vice president of the nonprofit Center for Victims, Downtown.
“The victim is still thinking five years down the line: ‘I'm going to have to deal with it again,' ” Provident said. “That has a great impact. It's not like the victim can just shut the door on what happened.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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