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Defense argues Simmons' punch was unintentional attempt to break free of person holding her

In her opening statement, defense attorney Ann Nichols told the jury in the Jacquetta Simmons trial this morning that her client didn't intend to hit a 70-year-old Walmart employee on Christmas Eve.

Nichols said when Simmons tried to leave Walmart after producing a receipt for her purchases, a woman in a yellow maroon blouse grabbed her arm and Simmons tried to pull free and her arm swung around at struck Grace Souzzi as Souzzi stepped from behind her register.

"This is an unfortunate accident," Nichols said.

During her opening, Nichols described a several-minute event that began with Simmons and her brother Isaac purchasing grocery items in lane one at Walmart and then after spotting some hot chicken for sale decided to return to lane two, where Souzzi was working, and pay for the chicken.

After a quick transaction to pay for the chicken, Simmons and her brother started to leave and Souzzi pointed at the bag in Isaac's hand and asked to see a receipt.

Nichols said the surveillance video will show Simmons looking in her pockets for the receipt when Souzzi comes out from behind her register stand and grabs the bag. She said Souzzi continued to hold the bag while checking out other customers.

Over the next couple of minutes, other managers come to the register, one or two leave and come back, while Simmons continues to look for the receipt for her initial purchase.

Souzzi places the bag under her register, according to Nichols, and seconds later Simmons finds the receipt and held it up for Souzzi to see.

"But that's not good enough for Grace," Nichols said. "She wants to physically hold the receipt."

Souzzi then takes the bag into her hand again and places it on the counter.

At that point, Simmons grabs her bag and tries to leave. Nichols said Souzzi reached for the bag, the bag started to tear. Nichols said Simmons cradles the bag in her arm.

As she's trying to leave, the scene has attracted a lot of attention and there are more managers and other people around and these people are starting to get involved, grabbing at Simmons.

At that point, the video will show a person grabbing Simmons' arm, Nichols said, and Souzzi steps out from behind her register walks into Simmon's arm swinging forward.

"It was no roundhouse punch," said Nichols, countering a statement by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini in her opening statement.

In her opening, Cianfrini described the kind of day Souzzi expected to lead on Christmas Eve, cooking for her family after work and attending Christmas Eve Mass.

"What Mrs. Souzzi didn't know was in the next few minutes, her best laid plans would be ruined and her life would be forever changed," Cianfrini said.

After describing Souzzi's injuries, Cianfrini said, "She would not have Christmas dinner with her family and she would not be able to attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass for the first time in her life."

"All of this happened," Cianfrini added, "because Mrs. Souzzi made a simple request, to see a receipt."

Cianfrini said witnesses will describe Simmons as angry and yelling profanities throughout the confrontation.

"Rather than produce a receipt that she did have," Cianfrini said. "She delivered a crushing blow with a closed fist to Mrs. Souzzi's face. This wasn't a hit. It wasn't a slap. This was an intentional and vicious roundhouse punch to her face."

Cianfrini said she is confident the evidence will show Simmons intended to physically injure Souzzi.

The trial is currently ongoing with the first prosecution witness on the stand.

Lori Silvernail
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Best wishes going out to Grace, and I'm hopeful the jury will do the right thing (I think we all know what that is). I'm not swayed in the least by the defense's opening statement as to how her client says this happened. Nope, not even one tiny bit.

mark jackett
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THATS RACIST
MR.YEOMANS [AS FOR WHAT DOUG WILL SAY]
LOL LOL HAHAHA
I STILL SAY HANG HER AND LET JUSTICE BE DONE
SHE HAS ALREADY USED ENOUGH TAXPAYERS MONEY !!!!!
MAY THE LORD SAVE LOL LOL

Doug Yeomans
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So, we're supposed to believe that somehow, Mrs Souzzi was accidentally hit in the face with an unintended blow that was hard enough to break facial bones. Yeah, happens all time!

So, what does the video show? I'd love to see the video.

Cheryl Wilmet
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I would love to see the entire video also. Is there any way to see this that you know of Howard?

Billie Owens
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Cheryl, any part of the video worth viewing and pertinent to the case will most assuredly be shown to the jury, several times perhaps. The courtroom is open to the public. You'd have to come and sit in the gallery to see it while court is in session.

jenny warner
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This is just a sad world we live in.

Gary Spencer
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...

Lori Silvernail
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I'm torn about watching the video. On one hand I want to see how the video matches (right...) up with the opening statement of her attorney. On the other, I know Grace personally and don't think I can't stand watching her get hurt so badly. I probably wouldn't watch it, I guess

Cheryl Wilmet
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Thank you Billie and Howard.

Kyle Couchman
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Lori I just got back, I saw the video several times between 10:30 and 4:30. Its a stretch that the punch was an accident. Over the day however, the witnesses testimony really discounts the defense version of the scenario. All the witness statements agree that Jaquetta was very hostile using the "f" word over and over as well as the B word and one even said he heard her call Grace the C word. As for the defense's defense I dont feel they really did much to disprove the DA's case picking at little things and insinuating the grab at Jaquetta's arm. The big fail I saw was when Grace was on the stand, they tried to characterize Grace's confiscation of the bag like she "snatched or took the bag by force, even picking at the usesage of the word "Took" in the statement Grace gave to police in the emergency room> Over and over Grace insisted that Jaquetta's brother gave her the bag willingly when a reciept request was refused.

All the other witnesses said the same thing however when it came to the "punch" that there wasnt anyone within reach of Jaquetta and that she leaned back and cocked her fist backward before making the punch. I left at 4:30 with the trial still going. My whole impression of the defense was it was trying to chip away at the facts and put enough doubt into the jury to get an aquittal. I'd be willing to bet a guilty verdict based on what I saw. Most damning thing I heard the whole trial was the witnesses comments from outside in the parking lot that all concur that Jaquetta's companion was heard on the phone telling the person on the other end that they were leaving cause Jaque punched the cashier and was going to jail. If her companion characterized it as a punch, along with all the other witnesses, how could it have been an accident?

One little quick comment on the video, I really hope it does get released, the objection of the defense was that without frame by frame interpretation the public would be mislead. Thats the thing that really amused me, he wants to spin the video to lead the public to his interpretation.

Kyle Couchman
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Since I know the people of this forum well just let me say these are my opinions,and interpretations based on what I saw and heard today until 4:30pm.

John Woodworth JR
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Really that is her defense? Wow, Simmons and Nichols must think this society is a bunch of idiots. Who in their right mind makes a close hand fist and swings with such force to do the damage she did, just to attempt to break away? This swing was intentional based on the force and point of impact. I doubt MS Simmons unintentionally punch Grace. Just another attempt to blame something else rather than take responsibility for one's actions. It was not like MS Souzzi didn't ask Simmons for her receipt prior to her walking up on the exit.

jeff saquella
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videos dont lie so im sure whatever the jury see's in the video will lead to the right decision on guilty or not guilty

Doug Yeomans
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Lori, I can sympathize with how you feel. Someone I used to know was murdered in Rochester in November of 1995. In 2007 I attended the murder trial of the accused (Christopher Gifford) and saw photographs that the coroner had taken. To this day they haunt me but at the same time they help anchor my unsympathetic attitude that Christopher Gifford is right where he belongs. The 50 years to life he got means he'll never get out. His partner in crime, Howard Wright, is also right where he belongs.

If you watch the video, just remain as impartial as possible. I'm the type of person that has to see things with his own eyes. I need to see it to understand it and to be solid with my own decision of guilt or innocence.

matt burns
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SHES GONNA WALK, PROBATION, FOR 3 YEARS..
THE LAWYERS FROM BUFFALO , PATHETIC JUSTICE. LET THE GRANNYBASHER SAY IT IN HER OWN WORDS. YA GOT AN IDIOT FROM BUFFALO DOIN THE TALKIN FOR THE FREE RIDE TO PROBATION. THERE WILL BE NO JUSTICE

Autumn Connolly
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Asking for a receipt i would want to hold it so I could read it. Holding up a recipt doesn't mean it was the right one. You can't just flash it infront of someone and think your ok. If she was craddling the torn bag how did she get her elbow high enough to accidently hit Mrs. Souzzi in the face when she was trying to get away? Ms. Simmons sounds racist with the comments about White B*tch.

Kyle Couchman
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Personally Matt I dont believe she's gonna walk. Simmons lawyer all day looked like he was reaching, stretching and picking at details with no real substance at all. My issue is that the court in sentencing is gonna give her no jail time as she has no record of trouble with the law. Especially with the story the defense gave in opening remarks about how Jaquetta wants to open her own senior living facility. The image portrayed of Jaquetta is very different than the image portrayed by all the witnesses so far.

Tammy Way
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BJ"s always asks for a reciept -- i surely wouldn't mind if any store asked for one -- that girl is crazy and showed it to its fullest

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