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Sentencing for Massena man adjourned after judge says he can’t agree to no jail time


MASSENA - A 33-year-old Massena man charged with attacking his brother during an argument that was allegedly sparked by his brother’s concern that he had drugs at their residence had his sentencing delayed after the village justice said he could not live up to the commitment not to include any jail time.

Christopher J. Miller of 146 Center St., Apt. 8, Massena, pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted assault in November.

Village police had charged Miller with third-degree assault, criminal obstruction of breathing, second-degree menacing and second-degree harassment in June.

The charges stemmed from an incident on the afternoon of May 21 when Miller was involved in a physical confrontation with his brother, Bradley O’Shea. He reportedly threatened Mr. O’Shea with a 6-inch steak knife, slammed Mr. O’Shea’s head through the living room wall and bit his brother on the chin.

Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson spent several minutes scrutinizing the pre-sentence investigation prepared by the probation department and indicated it left him with more questions than answers.

“Your statement to the probation officer is inconsistent with what was originally alleged, what you pleaded to. He raises the issue of self defense. There’s nothing to lead me to believe he takes any responsibility for this incident. If he is guilty, he is guilty. If he is not guilty, let’s schedule it for the trial calendar,” Mr. Gustafson.

He noted the inconsistencies in the pre-sentence report included the sentencing recommendation from the probation department. The village justice pointed out Miller was deemed a high risk to commit another offense, but the probation department recommended sentencing Miller to conditional discharge with community service.

Mr. Gustafson said the inconsistencies in the report left him to fashion his sentence based on the allegations he read about the case in the court file.

“He is a candidate for incarceration from what I see in front of me. I see it as somewhere between a harassment second and an attempted assault. I’m not looking at the high end for the sentence but somewhere between 15 and 30 days is what I think is appropriate,” the village justice said.

He said he was going to adjourn sentencing until Feb. 18 to give Miller time to discuss the case with his attorney and consider withdrawing his guilty plea since jail time had not been included in the plea bargain agreement.

Mr. O’Shea, in his statement to police, said he is on felony probation and was concerned that his brother had drug paraphernalia at their residence.

“... I told Christopher that I do not want to get in trouble and that I didn’t want drugs in the apartment. I tried to get into Christopher’s bedroom so I could take his marijuana pipe and throw it away,” he said.

He told police Miller responded by going into the kitchen, grabbing a knife and issuing a warning. He said his brother told him, “If you go into my room, I’m going to stab you,” Mr. O’Shea noted in his statement.

He said he then opted to attempt to de-escalate the situation by going into the living room to get his keys with plans to leave the apartment. He said his brother followed him into the living room, started pushing him, bit him on the chin, shoved his head into the wall and then when he fell to the floor placing him in a choke hold and applying increasing pressure.

In other recent court action before Judge Gustafson:

■ Rohahes Mitchell, 19, of 423 St. Regis Road, Akwesasne, was granted a six-month adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. He had been charged with petit larceny after he allegedly shoplifted $75.84 worth of DVDs from the Massena Walmart on Nov. 5.

■ Aronhientha (Trent) Benedict, 17, of 94 School Road, Snye, Que., was granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal after completing 10 hours of community service.

He had been charged with possessing a small amount of marijuana on July 29 while he was attending summer school at Massena Central.

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