Judge: Greenfield man's sentence for shooting ex-girlfriend not deserved
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.