Friday, June 19, 2009

Local paper: Rendell defends letter recommending tough sentence (for hate crime)

Rendell defends letter | | The Republican-Herald
HARRISBURG — Gov. Ed Rendell said Thursday a higher motivation compelled him to recommend a tough sentence for Shenandoah-area teens Brandon J. Piekarsky and Derrick M. Donchak in the Ramirez case.

“I think it was a moral obligation,” said Rendell when asked why he decided to suggest a maximum sentence for the pair convicted of simple assault in the beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, an illegal Mexican immigrant, in Shenandoah.

“I think what happened was horrific,” Rendell said. “The jury verdict was improper. It sends out all the wrong messages to our citizens.”

In a letter to Schuylkill County District Attorney James P. Goodman, Rendell asked for the harshest possible sentences for Piekarsky and Donchak. He referred to the brutality of the beating and the appearance that the crime was racially motivated.

Both were sentenced to at least six months in county prison for the simple assault conviction by Schuylkill County President Judge William E. Baldwin. The two were acquitted of the charge of ethnic intimidation, and Piekarsky was also acquitted of third-degree murder by a jury May 1.

Baldwin criticized the governor for recommending a sentence for a specific criminal case and said he wouldn’t consider it....

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