Schenectady movie theater attackers get ‘second chance’
Teens admitted beating man
SCHENECTADY Three of the four teens who admitted to their roles in last summer’s movie theater attack were sentenced Friday to terms of one year or less.
Each also received youthful offender status, essentially sealing their records.
Presiding Judge Richard B. Meyer, visiting from Essex County, sentenced the teens in Schenectady County Court to less than he could have under plea deals reached in March.
Meyer explained that the defendants received favorable pre-sentence reports and he wanted to give the defendants a second chance. All three were 16 at the time of the attack.
“I read in your statement that you talk about second chances,” Meyer told defendant Roeson Cobb during Cobb’s sentencing. “I want you to know that not everybody gets a second chance. This may be your only second chance in life.”
Cobb nodded as Meyer spoke.
Meyer also noted Cobb completed his General Equivalency Diploma while in jail. Meyer sentenced Cobb to one year in jail — he could have given him 16 months to 4 years in prison.
Cobb had previously been described as the instigator in the June 28, 2013, attack. In all, six teens were charged; two faced charges as juveniles in Schenectady County Family Court.
The attack happened late that night at the conclusion of a showing of “White House Down” at Bow Tie Cinema in downtown Schenectady. A group of teenagers were disrupting the show, prosecutors have said.
At some point, a man from Niskayuna there with his two daughters snapped his fingers at one of the passing youth — prosecutor John Healy of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office previously identified that youth as Cobb. Cobb responded by rallying the group of teens he was with against the man. The teens started hitting the man in succession. When he began to fight back, they started attacking together, hitting and kicking him. Cobb threw the first punch, Healy said previously.
The victim suffered a concussion, broken bones to a hand, tooth damage and torn-up skin on his knees, prosecutors said. One of the man’s daughters also was hit and knocked to the floor as she tried to come to her father’s aid, prosecutors said. Her cellphone was also stolen.
In court Friday, Healy referenced comments the father made in the pre-sentence reports. The comments weren’t read in court and the victims weren’t present at the sentencing.
The victim, Healy paraphrased, outlined the “devastating effects” of the attack.
The extent of the victim’s injuries was expected to have been an issue had the cases gone to trial. Each of the attackers was charged with first-degree assault, which requires a finding of “serious physical injury.” Defense attorneys were expected to dispute that the injuries rose to that level.
Representing Cobb Friday was attorney Eugene Grenz. He appeared to say his client was not one of the main assailants. Healy couldn’t comment afterward, due to the youthful offender status being granted.
Regardless, Grenz said there was “a short period where he forgot his compass,” but the incident has been a wake-up call for Cobb.
“He has already begun his reformation, so to speak,” Grenz said, noting Cobb’s completion of his GED. “He is determined to travel the straight-and-narrow henceforth.”
Cobb wrote a letter to Meyer, which was not read in court. Cobb made no additional statement.
Cobb also faces two years in an unrelated Albany County drug case. Grenz previously asked the judge to consider the one-year sentence for Cobb, taking into consideration what he might get in Albany County.
Also sentenced Friday were Dashawn Harrison and Terrell Bell. Both pleaded guilty in March to second-degree assault and received sentences of time served, five years’ probation and youthful offender status.
Harrison and Bell could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail. Harrison already had served about five months, while Bell had about a week. Each will be under the supervision of the Schenectady County Probation Department.
The youthful offender status was committed to by the judge prior to the pleas, providing nothing changed between plea and sentencing.
Attorneys for each of the four charged have indicated parents have been closely involved. About 15 relatives and friends were in the courtroom Friday.
The fourth teen, 18-year-old Jonas Jeannot, initially rejected a deal similar to Harrison and Bell, pushing his case to trial. Jeannot, however, later accepted the deal and is to be sentenced later this month. Jeannot was 17 at the time of the attack.