Quantcast
Skip to main content

Jacquetta Simmons sent to jail as defense plans appeal of restitution order

In nearly every respect, the re-sentencing today of Jacquetta Simmons was routine. Matter of fact, perfunctory, even.

Stripped of any discretion in sentencing by the the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, NYS Supreme Court, when the higher court threw out his previous five-year prison term for Simmons, Judge Robert C. Noonan had little to say in open court before sending Simmons to jail on a one-year term.

The 12-months in county lock-up, likely to be reduced to eight months on good time, was prescribed by the appellate division, which rendered mute in court both of the normally loquacious attorneys for the people and the defense, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and Buffalo-based private attorney Earl Key.

"The sentence imposed by me previously is obviously the sentence I thought appropriate for this case," Noonan said. "The appellate division has the authority to modify the sentence and has done so. As Mr. Friedman noted, I have no discretion to modify their sentence. Therefore, I sentence you to one year in the Genesee County Jail."

Because the local jail cannot house female inmates, Simmons has been transferred to the Allegany County Jail, one of a half-dozen other jails in neighboring counties that take Genesee County's female inmates.

The county will be billed $85 per day to house Simmons in the Allegany jail, meaning if she serves eight months, county taxpayers will pick up as much as a $20,000 tab for her incarceration.

Simmons, 27-years-old at the time of her crime, was convicted by a jury of peers in August of delivering a roundhouse punch to the face of 70-year-old Grace Suozzi, a Walmart cashier, on Christmas Eve 2011, after arguing with Suozzi about producing a receipt for her prior purchases.

Suozzi has not worked and reportedly rarely goes out of the house since the attack.

Defense attorney Key maintained at trial, and in the appeal, that the punch was accidental and that Simmons was merely pulling her arm away from another store employee as she tried to rush from the store.

The appellate division sided with the jury, with one dissenting vote, even as it decided Noonan's sentence rendered in November was too harsh.

Key and co-counsel Anne Nichols said after court that the justices made the right decision in overturning Noonan's original five-year prison term.

Key said Nichols did extensive research and found no case in the State of New York where a first-time offender who was employed and going to college was given such a harsh sentence on a Class D violent felony conviction.

"There's never been a case that we could find, and the District Attorney's Office sure didn't refute what we said in the paperwork, where anybody has ever gotten five years as a first-time offender," Key said.

Friedman did not want to comment following today's hearing. But after the decision was first announced last week, Friedman seemed to question an appeals process that had little regard for local community standards.

"Having gone through this and seeing the impact this had on Mrs. Suozzi, her family, a lot of people in the community who knew her and cared about her -- all of that is something that is lost in the appeal process," Friedman said. "It's one punch, but more than the physical harm is the emotional harm. It really affected her life as far as her ability to return to work and go out and about. She's a very nice lady and this sentence doesn't do her justice."

In overturning the sentence, Nichols said, the appellate division did apply community standards -- the standards of the entire community of the State of New York.

"That depends what community you're talking about," Nichols said.

"Genesee County," a reporter interjected.

"I think it accurately reflects what more diverse communities are in line with," she continued. "If you look across the state, as we did with the appellate division in getting the stay to begin with, it's very unusual for a first-time offender to receive a sentence of five years incarceration. I did the research myself. I looked at DOCS, and I would say that's almost unheard of. The original result was in line with community standards across the state, for sure."

Asked to respond to the notion that the local Genesee County community is offended by a reduced sentence for a person that viciously attacked an elderly woman who's highly regarded here, Key said the sentence should not be based on who the victim is.

"Should decisions be made based on the victim's character and who the victim is?" Key asked. "So somebody who is less popular in the community, or somebody who is less affluent in the community, then the sentence should have been less, and then because Grace is who she is, then the sentence should be harsher? That's absurd."

Nichols said all of the negative comments about Simmons during the course of this case have come from people who don't even know Simmons.

"Nobody has taken into account what we've been trying to get across from the beginning is that Jacquetta Simmons had absolutely no criminal history," Nichols said. "She worked. She wasn't on public assistance. She had no CPS cases. She is not what everybody in this community has painted her out to be in many comment sections and from the many people I've heard talking in the streets. They don't know who Jacquetta Simmons is and quite frankly they don't care to know who she is."

After the hearing, Simmons was led by a deputy from the court room (top photo) and toward a probable eight months in jail, but outside of court Key made clear the case is not over.

Noonan has awarded more than $2,000 in restitution be paid to Grace Suozzi. Today, Noonan ordered that Simmons begin paying the restitution at a rate of $100 per month beginning in 30 days.

Key said he's going to appeal Noonan's restitution ruling.

"She has to pay restitution for things like high blood-pressure medication and things of that nature," Key said. "For a woman who admittedly never went to the doctor for years prior, one of our arguments is you don't know if she had high-blood pressure before this incident. She wasn't seen by a medical professional, so we definitely plan to appeal the restitution."

The Batavian first broke the story of the Simmons case in 2011. For a complete archive of our coverage, click here.

Doug Yeomans
DougYeomans's picture
Offline
Joined: Feb 13 2009
Member

If she has always worked she can pay for her own jail time, also

Lori Silvernail
Lori Silvernail's picture
Offline
Joined: Oct 22 2009
Member

First we read this,
"Should decisions be made based on the victim's character and who the victim is?" Key said. "So somebody who is less popular in the community, or somebody who is less affluent in the community, then the sentence should have been less, and then because Grace is who she is, then the sentence should be harsher? That's absurd."

Then we read this,
"Nobody has taken into account what we've been trying to get across from the beginning is that Jacquetta Simmons had absolutely no criminal history," Nichols said. "She worked. She wasn't on public assistance. She had no CPS cases. She is not what everybody in this community has painted her out to be in many comment sections and from the many people I've heard talking in the streets. They don't know who Jacquetta Simmons is and quite frankly they don't care to know who she is."

Sounds like it's coming from a forked tongue...

You've got this part right, I do NOT care about Simmon's past. I DO; however, care about Grace's future. Simmon's ruined it, plain and simple. I hope jail sucks every stinkin day.

Kyle Couchman
Kyle C's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 25 2009

Lori all I can say is I will pray that her mouth and attitude make her time so bad that she ends up doing 15 years. If she snaps at someone like Grace in a Wal-Mart I imagine that she will get on someones wrong side there too.

I see double standards all around with this case. She didnt commit this crime in Syracuse or Rochester or Buffalo or Albany but we should sentence her according to the standards of all these other communities?

Laura Russell Ricci
Laura Russell Ricci's picture
Offline
Joined: Jul 1 2008

So let me understand this better...just because you hold a job, go to school, etc...this makes you a good person? It means you do things in life but surely doesn't mean you are a good person. A good person doesn't 'accidentally' punch someone and run. A good person takes accountability for their actions, which it appears, in all I have read, Ms. Simmons hasn't done. I have little sympathy for someone who has little compassion for the woman who was hurt, both physically and emotionally.

Lori Silvernail
Lori Silvernail's picture
Offline
Joined: Oct 22 2009
Member

Grace had a job and no previous criminal history, too. So Simmons gets credit for those things while Grace gets the "punch in the gut" to go along with what Simmons already did to her. The video was clear, it was NO accident.

mark jackett
BABYJACKETT's picture
Offline
Joined: Apr 13 2009

The death penalty would be a lot cheaper!!!!
Just saying......

tom hunt
macaroo's picture
Offline
Joined: Jan 31 2009

Money talks and BS walks!!!

Mark Brudz
Markb's picture
Offline
Joined: Feb 9 2012
Member

It is one thing to argue a person's work history and prior record when that person steals something or other non violent crime, quite the other when violence occurs. Personally, I don't care about the cost of incarceration, when some one does bodily harm to another, there should be mandatory minimums. A 12 months sentence just doesn't seem to be enough, and with regard to Mr. Keys and Nichols statements, she should have worried about all that before she struck a 70 year old woman in the face.

barb king
Barb King's picture
Online
Joined: Jan 29 2010

The short sentence aside, public opinion might be a tiny bit less harsh if Simmons wasn't fighting the paltry $2,000 restitution order. That just screams "Not sorry, and proud of it!"

RICHARD L. HALE
DICKIE's picture
Offline
Joined: May 22 2009

Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It's not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, an argument, the weather ,or your age that is to blame.

You, and only you are responsible for every decision you make.......Period

Unless of course, you can afford a good lawyer.

Kathy Allen
rigatoni9's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 23 2010

My argument is if the roles were reversed and it was an older black worker at Walmart? Al sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and everyone else south of te 36/30 line would be up here protesting the reduction in sentencing.

Raymond Richardson
RRichardson's picture
Offline
Joined: Aug 18 2012

Simmons is going to find Belmont a much different world. Her hood rat attitude will last all of 2 seconds and the other female inmates will be all over her like stink on turds.

Mark Taggett
smbltaylor's picture
Offline
Joined: Mar 3 2011

A "good" person does not punch ANYONE! I don't care if they are 30 or 70. But the granny law hits it right on the head, you NEVER should even entertain the thought of punching an elderly person. I don't care if the criminal has a job or kids or family... Grace HAD all that, she can no longer work. After the criminal serves her 8 months, her life will return to normal. Now we just wait for the other shoe to drop, if it's not her in 2 years, 5 years or 10 years, it will be her kids committing some sort of other crime. She was not made an example of, she should have been. She showed her kids it's ok to punch an old person if you disagree with what they are asking you to do - NOT to respect your elders as she should be teaching them. In less than a year, this will be all over for her, enjoying Christmas with her family and Grace will not. I don't care who Grace was in this community - it could have been an elderly homeless person, you don't do this to our cherished elders, you just DON'T! And lastly, maybe this would sting "a little" less if the criminal would have at least apologized, if not personally/verbally in court, write Grace a personal letter or request an interview with Howard, anything. But she sits silent and just makes it worse by now fighting the measly restitution too. Sickening. We can only hope Grace's family can convince her to not let this criminal take more of her life from her and that the criminal gets the karma she deserves somewhere down the line.

Jeff Allen
dnjallen's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 5 2009
Member

Apparently at the Appellate level the video evidence was subjective (Sconiers) therefore if character is at issue when deciding malfeasance then a persons reaction to the "accident" is the most telling. "Good" people react very differently than Ms. Simmons when they have harmed someone by accident. A good person immediately stops and renders aid to the person they accidentally hurt. A good person does not run, leaving the victim to be tended to by others. A good person is immediately and steadfastly repentant and humbled throughout the experience. I guess the definition of good is subjective as well.

Mardell Lamb
Mardell Lamb's picture
Offline
Joined: Apr 22 2009

Mark Taggett ~ VERY well said. Thank you.

Premium Drupal Themes