PITTSFIELD -- A 26-year-old man found guilty of slashing a stranger's face outside a city convenience store last September has been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

Monday, during a sentencing proceeding in Berkshire Superior Court, Judge John Agostini said Jeremy D. Gomes "appears to be a very dangerous man. ... Any one of us could be at risk with him out there."

The judge went on to call the Sept. 10, 2011, attack on Zachary Sevigny a "horrific act."

Gomes, of Pittsfield, leaned into a car window and slashed Sevigny with a boxcutter outside a Tyler Street convenience store without provocation. According to court testimony, Gomes had argued with the convenience store clerk just before the slashing. The cut required 30 stitches.

On Friday, a jury deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours and returned guilty verdicts on single counts of mayhem, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and breaking and entering into a vehicle in the nighttime for a felony. Sentencing was delayed until Monday.

Sevigny, 19, told the court the attack changed his life, and he fears even a "simple thing as making eye-contact with strangers." He said his facial scar, running from his right ear along his jaw line and onto his face, draws "uncomfortable stares" and "awkward looks" from strangers.

First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello, who asked for a 10- to 12-year state prison sentence for the defendant, said Sevigny would always carry "a horrific reminder of this act of street violence." Caccaviello also pointed to Gomes' record, which includes a two-year jail sentence for a knife attack in 2008.

Gomes' attorney, Michelle Mechta, said her client suffered learning difficulties and had been bullied in school.

Regarding the 2008 incident, Mechta said Gomes had been protecting his girlfriend. He took responsibility for that crime and pleaded guilty, she said.

Mechta, who asked for a sentence of 5 1/2 to seven years, presented the judge with several letters from Gomes' family and friends proclaiming his innocence and calling it a case of mistaken identity.

The trial revolved around the issue of identity and the accuracy of eyewitnesses, some of whom did not initially identify Gomes as the culprit.

On Monday, Agostini sentenced Gomes to between eight and 12 years in the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.

Agostini said this type of violence against a stranger "brings fear to all of us" since it was an attack that happened "for no reason."

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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