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Man sentenced in Butler Co. burglaries, assaults of 5 seniors

| Saturday, April 21, 2007

Eileen Devlin refuses to sleep in her bed since the night in January 2001, when she woke up to find Joshua Goyette standing over her.

Devlin, 75, of Saxonburg, still lives in fear of a man she never will have to see again.

Goyette, 27, was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 26 years and nine months in prison for a string of burglaries and attacks in Butler County involving five elderly women, including Devlin.

Under the sentence handed down by Butler County Common Pleas Judge George H. Hancher yesterday, Goyette could serve a maximum of 56 years and six months.

"By the time he is released, we'll all be with St. Peter," Devlin said.

Goyette was found guilty in January of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and criminal mischief for a June 2005 attack on Gertrude "Trudy" Johanson.

Johanson, a friend of Devlin's and her neighbor at the time, was beaten on the head with a glass candle holder while she was sleeping in her apartment at Commons of Saxonburg, a senior housing complex.

Johanson, now 88 and living in Michigan, needed 17 stitches in the back of her head. Her hands and fingers were crushed and split open when she tried to cover her head to protect herself from the blows.

"The brutal involvement in this particular attack is incomprehensible to me," Hancher said before delivering the sentence yesterday.

Goyette was arrested in Massachusetts four days after the attack. He told police he had been drinking and smoked part of a marijuana cigarette prior to the attack on Johanson.

After his conviction, Goyette reached a plea bargain in February and pleaded guilty to seven charges in four other cases. Two of those cases included sexual assaults against women ages 70 and 90.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of burglary, two charges of indecent assault and one count each of theft and identity theft.

"Mr. Goyette has clearly, in my layman's terms, issues," defense attorney Rebecca Lozzi said. "Please remember, he is someone's nephew, someone's grandson. He is a father to a son and a son to his parents."

Goyette was living with his mother in Saxonburg and in New Bedford, Mass., until he was arrested. He was credited with 659 days of time served.

"I've never seen such a horrific case of violence against the elderly," District Attorney Randa Clark said.

"Mrs. Devlin is satisfied, and that's enough for me," she said. "I truly believe this is the right resolution."

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