A reprieve may be on the horizon for Rafael Pichardo, the Staten Island man sentenced to 15 years after a clash with police at a nightclub in Atlantic City three years go.
Pichardo, 32, was ordered to serve consecutive prison terms after his May 1, 2010 conviction on nine counts of second-degree aggravated assault, resisting arrest and making terroristic threats after he bit off the tip of an Atlantic City police officer's finger and a number of other offenses, The Press of Atlantic City reported.
A panel of appellate judges ruled Wednesday that the 15-year sentence Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury imposed against Pichardo on Aug. 27, 2009, was excessive, the Associated Press reported.
The appellate judges largely agreed with DeLury's decisions, but suggested the judge reconsider the consecutive portion of the sentences imposed on four counts, and have them run concurrently.
Concurrent sentences run at the same time, while consecutive sentences run back to back. Time served" is jail time credit the defendant receives from the period he was in jail waiting for resolution of his criminal case, according to Rooth Law Group. Time served is supposed to be subtracted from the total sentence a defendant receives during the sentencing phase of any judicial procedure.
In reviewing the case, the appellate judges also found that Pichardo's "conduct would appear to be more aptly characterized as a single period of aberrant behavior," and said DeLury needed to consider whether the defendants crimes were "committed so closely in time and place as to indicate a single period of aberrant behavior."
Pichardo, 32, was arrested Feb. 11, 2007 after a dust-up with Atlantic City police at a nightclub in the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. Officers said, not only did Pichardo resist arrest, and bite the tip of Officer Dean Dooley's index finger off, but also his atrocious behavior grew worse when he spat on two officers as they tried to subdue him, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
The melee began when officer Dooley, who was off-duty and working security at the nightclub, asked Pichardo to pick up an object he knocked over. The two men exchanged words and Pichardo, a native of the Dominican Republic, was asked to leave, but refused.
When uniformed officers arrived to escort him out, Pichardo reportedly became combative and bit Dooley's finger. During his 2007 trial, Pichardo testified that officers Lt. Christopher Applegate and Patrick Yarrow, James Knights and Daniel Corcoran began mocking him, which made him angry and led him to make an obscene gesture to the officers, who then began beating him. Pichardo filed charges against the officers, who said Pichardo remained violent as he was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Pichardo had filed charges against those officers saying they beat him while he was in custody at the precinct. In October 2007, Judge Robert Switzer agreed there was probably cause for the officers to be charged with the aggravating assault on Pichardo, who was in Atlantic City that night with his wife, NJ.com reported. The charges against the officers were later dropped.
At sentencing, Judge DeLury called Pichardo "unrepentant," because the defendant was insistent he was the victim, not the police. When DeLury announced the harsh consecutive sentences, Pichardo's father began having chest pains, his brother fainted and his mother, who suffered from heart trouble, had to be transported to a local hospital, The Press of Atlantic City reported.
The appellant panel agreed with the consecutive sentences DeLury imposed for the separate attacks on Applegate, Yarrow, Knights and Corcoran.
It was not clear when Pichardo, who had no previous criminal record, will be re-sentenced. He is currently incarcerated at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey.