EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 5, 2014

Conviction in pizza shop assault thrown out

Ruling could allow for Sideri's release from prison

NORTH ANDOVER — The state’s appeals court has tossed out the most serious conviction against a North Andover man convicted two years ago of a bloody baseball bat beating of his pizza shop employee in Tyngsboro.

Eric Sideri, 51, was sentenced to four to five years in state prison after he was found guilty on Feb. 13, 2012, of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Since the charge has been reversed by the appeals court, his attorney, Rosemary Curran Scapicchio of Boston, said she will ask a judge to set bail for Sideri, allowing his release from prison.

The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, has 28 days to appeal the Massachusetts Appeals Court decision issued on Jan. 29.

The victim, an assistant manager at Sideri’s restaurant, Angela’s Coal Fired Pizza in Tyngsboro, was working on March 21, 2009, when shortly after midnight Sideri allegedly attacked him with a baseball bat and accused him of stealing $21,000 from the restaurant.

Following his jury trial conviction, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Sandra Hamlin sentenced Sideri to four to five years in state prison on the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge and three years probation on charges of assault and battery and use of a motor vehicle without authority.

The jury acquitted Sideri on kidnapping, threats and two additional counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

The appeal’s court ruled that over the objection of Sideri’s defense at trial, the judge did not instruct the jury to consider convicting Sideri of a lesser assault and battery charge.

“The jury had a rational basis for convicting the defendant of a lesser included offense,” according to the decision.

Sideri “testified that he used his fists in the altercation with the victim. He also testified he had not touched a baseball bat in 25 years. Furthermore, an expert witness testified that the victim’s injuries could have been caused by a fist, a table, or a fall. The testimony gave the jury a rational basis to believe the altercation constituted an assault and battery but not one using a dangerous weapon.”

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