YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man who pleaded guilty to his role in a September fight at a Boardman gas station was sentenced Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to at least three years in prison.
Anthony DeFrance, 22, received the sentence from Judge R. Scott Krichbaum following a Dec. 12 guilty plea to a charge of felonious assault, a second-degree felony. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to not object to an early release from prison should DeFrance ask for one.
DeFrance must serve at least six months of his sentence to ask for an early release.
His attorney, Ed Hartwig, told the judge that the fight started after DeFrance went to the GetGo on U.S. 224 around midnight Sept. 3 and backed into a parking spot next to a car that was already there.
The man in that car accused DeFrance of parking too close to him and they exchanged words. DeFrance walked away twice, and DeFrance told the judge later that the man pushed him before DeFrance slapped and punched the man.
The man then ran away, but DeFrance said he thought the man was running after his girlfriend, so he chased the man and he fell, breaking his wrist. DeFrance continued assaulting the man as he was on the ground, reports said.
Hartwig said his client was not the aggressor in the fight and that perhaps the charge should have been aggravated assault, but they decided to accept a plea offer because there was a chance a jury could find him guilty at trial. The maximum sentence for felonious assault is eight years.
Hartwig said the other man was drunk and other than the broken wrist, the only other injury that the man sustained was a cut that took two stitches to close.
“He was not looking for trouble, that’s clear,” Hartwig said of his client. “It’s a shame he [DeFrance] acted inappropriately and lost his temper.”
Hartwig said his client has been taking advantage of mentoring opportunities from friends and family while awaiting sentencing and that he submitted 10 letters to the judge about DeFrance’s character.
DeFrance does have a misdemeanor assault conviction and a pending probation violation hearing in Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield as well, said Assistant Prosecutor Steve Maszczak.
The victim did not show up but he submitted a written statement to the court that Judge Krichbaum read parts of. In it, the man said he had “severe injuries” and wanted DeFrance to have the maximum sentence. He also said the justice system is “on the side of the criminal and not the victim.”
DeFrance told the judge that he realizes he went too far when he ran after the man.
“I felt threatened,” DeFrance said.
DeFrance said he wants to go back to school and get a job.
“I do not want to be the person I was the night of the altercation,” he told the judge.
Judge Krichbaum said an incident such as an argument over a parking space that turns physical is a sign of how times have changed. People used to have words and then walk away, but now they ended up fighting over something insignificant, the judge said.
“Now, it’s just nobody respects anybody and that’s why these things happen,” Judge Krichbaum said.