EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2013

Victim: Attacker should get longer prison term

Judge sentences man to minimum 10 years for robbery, pistol whipping

By Douglas Moser

---- — LAWRENCE — Liquor store owner Arturo Taveras, 69, says the man who pistol whipped him during an attempted robbery, got too lenient a prison sentence.

Jose Gonzalez, 30, of Dorchester, pleaded guilty yesterday in Salem Superior Court to two counts each of armed robbery and kidnapping, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of carrying a firearm without a license.

Judge Howard Whitehead sentenced him to 10 to 111/2 years in prison, followed by three years of probation.

Taveras, 69, the owner of McCann’s Liquors on South Union Street in Lawrence who was struck multiple times in the head with a gun during the March 6, 2011 afternoon robbery, said he thought the sentence was too lenient.

“He should have gotten at least 30 to 35 years in prison because they’re a danger to society,” Taveras said yesterday through a translator. Taveras wrote an impact statement, read yesterday to the court by prosecutor James Gubitose, urging Judge Whitehead to impose a strict sentence.

Gonzalez was free on probation for an armed robbery conviction in Suffolk County when the Lawrence robbery and beating took place. He served five years for the Suffolk robbery.

“I’m not happy with the sentence because (Gonzalez) understands any criminal can kill, can take possessions, and in 10, 111/2 years, he’ll be free roaming the streets,” Taveras said.

At about 12:30 p.m. on March 6, 2011, two men entered McCann’s and bought lottery tickets. As Taveras was giving the tickets to the men, he found himself staring into the barrel of a pistol.

Gonzales hit him multiple time about the head while Rafael Tejada, also of Dorchester, took money. They bound Taveras’ hands with electrical wire and fled to the second floor apartment after Taveras fired a round from a .38 revolver he carried on his hip. The robbers hid in a crawl space in the apartment for more than four hours before surrendering to a Lawrence Police SWAT team.

Taveras required dozens of staples to his head and multiple trips to the hospital, and told Judge Whitehead in his statement that he still has troubles as a result of the beating.

Whitehead said the only reason he wasn’t imposing more time behind bars was because Gonzalez was accepting responsibility and avoiding putting the state through the burden of a trial. “The level of gratuitous violence was significant and life-threatening. Mr. Taveras was fortunate to have a gun of his own,” Whitehead said.

Michael Hickey, a Salem attorney who represented Gonzalez, said the case was difficult, given the fact Gonzalez and Tejada were found in the building. “Judge Whitehead commented that it was an indefensible case,” Hickey said. None of the charges were reduced or dropped in exchange for the plea, he said.

Tejada, 44, pleaded guilty Jan. 5, 2012, to multiple counts of armed robbery, kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Salem Superior Court. He was sentenced to a minimum of six years and no more than 81/2 years in state prison, followed by 11 years of probation.

Staff writers Yadira Betances and Julie Manganis contributed to this report.

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