JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The final defendant in a 2011 attack by a mob of marauding teenagers that left a young Polish immigrant severely disabled was sentenced to five years in prison Friday.
Before the sentencing, a letter from the family of 24-year-old Dawid Strucinski was read, describing how their pursuit of the American dream had been shattered by the unprovoked attack, which left them bankrupt and caring for a son who had gone from proud college graduate to severely disabled shut-in.
John McShea, 18, of Bayonne, had pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault charge in the case.
Nine people ranging in age from 14 to 18 were arrested in the July 3, 2011 attack. Police said Strucinski was beaten while trying to come to the aid of a friend who had also been attacked by the roving group of teenagers, who police said had been drinking at a nearby house party when they started harassing people on the street.
Strucinski suffered severe head trauma after being repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head.
McShea was the only defendant given prison time.
Assistant Prosecutor Lynne Seborowski had urged Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale to give McShea a harsher sentence as she detailed more than a dozen “contacts with the criminal justice system” McShea had had since the age of 13.
Seborowski then read the letter from Strucinski’s parents as they looked on in the courtroom. It detailed the family’s journey from Nidzica, Poland, to Bayonne, N.J., 20 years ago, motivated by a dedication to “purse the American dream,” which for them meant buying a modest home in the blue-collar northern New Jersey city and, above all, making sure their son could go to college.
Their pride in seeing him graduate from Rutgers University just two months before the attack had given way to “a reality based on hopelessness and despair,” the letter said, leaving him with injuries that required them to dress him, help him shower and feed him each day, in a futile effort to; “get him out of the shell he now resides in.”
The letter described how their son’s injuries had forced the family to declare bankruptcy, and said they were on the verge of losing their home. Their full-time job was now caring for their once-vibrant son, who was now too depressed and traumatized to leave the safety of his room, the letter said.
McShea, handcuffed and in prison scrubs, did not speak during the sentencing, except to answer that he understood the judge’s instructions.
Strucinski’s father shook his head side to side as the sentence was read, saying afterward; “I don’t think five years is harsh enough.”
Friends of Strucinski’s, who have held a series of fundraisers to try and help the family with its staggering medical bills, described Strucinski before the attack as a quiet, family-and-church-oriented soccer fan who loved Harry Potter books. After graduating from Rutgers in May 2011, friends said Strucinski had set a goal of sending out 15 resumes a week in hopes of getting a job in law enforcement — anything from working as an FBI agent to becoming a park ranger.
Police said the intensity of the attack was unusual for Bayonne, a geographically isolated blue-collar city of 63,000 is on the tip of a peninsula that jets into New York Harbor, separated by water from Newark Liberty Airport on one side, two boroughs of New York City on others, and cut off from its neighbor, Jersey City, by the New Jersey Turnpike.
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