Pittsfield woman acquitted in Back Nine Bar & Grille brawl
PITTSFIELD -- A city woman was acquitted on all charges and her two co-defendants found not guilty of the most serious crimes in connection with a brawl outside a bar.
On Tuesday, Shanay Jones, 35, wiped away tears after a Berkshire Superior Court jury found her not guilty of two counts each of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor assault and battery.
Her co-defendants, Alicya Hubbard and Brittany Gresser, both 23, were found guilty of one count each of misdemeanor assault and battery, but were found not guilty of the more serious charges of mayhem -- which carries a maximum 20-year state prison sentence -- and two counts each of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. They also were each acquitted of an additional count of misdemeanor assault and battery.
Judge John A. Agostini sentenced Gresser and Hubbard to a year of probation.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about 14 hours over the course of three days before returning the verdict.
The defendants were accused of being involved in a fight in the parking lot of the former Back Nine Bar & Grille on Crane Avenue in the early morning of March 16, 2013. The brawl left Alyssa Mendonsa 26, with a slashed face and her cousin, 22-year-old Qyreeana Sistrunk, with a dislocated shoulder.
The defense attorneys in the case said Mendonsa had been thrown out of the bar for being drunk and belligerent and had followed their clients to their car before attacking them.
At trial, Mendonsa and her cousin admitted to throwing the first punches and said they never saw a "blade" or anyone wielding one during the fight.
Jones' attorney, Edmund St. John III, said his client acted as "a peacemaker," trying to get Mendonsa to leave and restraining Sistrunk to prevent her from returning to the fight.
After the verdicts were read, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Yorlano asked the court to have Gresser and Hubbard both serve six months of 21 2 year jail sentences. He asked the court to suspend the remainder of their sentences for two years while the women would be on probation.
Mendonsa suffered serious injuries and the two defendants should be held accountable, Yorlano said.
Mendonsa was charged with assault and battery through a private complaint brought by Gresser for her actions during the fight. Mendonsa had her case continued without a finding of guilt and dismissed.
The judge asked Yorlano why there was such a "disparity" in the two cases, especially since Mendonsa had started the fight. The prosecutor answered that in part it was due to Mendonsa's willingness to plead to the charges so quickly.
Attorney Raymond J. Jacoub, representing Gresser, asked the court to sentence his client to 30 days of probation, a sentence close to what Mendonsa received in her case. He said his client was the real victim.
Besides being attacked outside the bar, Mendonsa had previously thrown bricks at Gresser's vehicle and assaulted her and Hubbard. Yorlano pointed out that Gresser and Hubbard had also been charged in relation to one of the earlier cases.
"What's good for the goose is good for the gander," Leonard H. Cohen, representing Hubbard, told the court when asking for 30 days of probation for his client.
He said "jail is not called for" in this case and noted that Hubbard had already spent a week in jail before the case went to trial.
Both attorneys said neither of their clients had a criminal record.
Agostini noted the women's lack of a previous criminal record, but said he wanted to give them a year of probation. During that time period, they must not have contact with Mendonsa to prevent any more enmity between the women from occurring.
"I'm concerned this is going to continue," the judge said.
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