Sep. 22-A Waterbury man who shot and wounded a man on an East Hartford street based on his belief that the victim had paid him in counterfeit money for a cellphone was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison.
DEFENDANT: Axel Rivera-Perez, 27, of Waterbury
GUILTY PLEA: First-degree assault
SENTENCE: 10 years, suspended after 18 months in prison, followed by five years of probation
The sentence that Judge Kevin Doyle imposed on the shooter, Axel Rivera-Perez, 27, in Hartford Superior Court was half the maximum prison term that Rivera, as he is commonly known, could have received under his plea bargain for the first-degree assault.
Rivera will be on probation for five years after he is released from prison, facing up to 8 1/2 more years behind bars if he violates release conditions.
Rivera had no criminal record when the shooting occurred around 10:23 a.m. on Dec. 22 on Smith Drive, and he had a valid pistol permit, prosecutor Jesse Ware Giddings acknowledged during Wednesday's hearing.
But the prosecutor called Rivera's firing of the gun an "overreaction," adding that there was no threat to Rivera once the shooting victim ran away.
Defense lawyer Manuel A. Suarez said Rivera dropped out of school in 11th grade to pursue a career in business and rose to regional manager in a chain of cellphone stores. The company sometimes asked him to start a new location, Suarez added.
Rivera bought his first home at age 24 and recently married the mother of his 3-year-old daughter, the defense lawyer said.
He called Rivera a "very religious man," adding that he is "a hard-working, non-drinking, non-smoking, non-drug-using husband and father."
Suarez expressed confidence that the shooting was "a one-off event."
"I regret the actions that happened," Rivera told the judge.
Doyle told Rivera that, in one sense, he "led a very good life" and had "done incredible things."
The judge also said Rivera came from "a good family."
He said he considered the shooting "out of character" but stressed that it took place "in a public area" and "put other people at risk."
"Anger led you to fire a weapon," the judge said.
Police found the victim lying on the sidewalk on the north side of Smith Drive, according to a report by East Hartford police Officer Jason Hawley. The victim, who was conscious and alert, said he was shot in the right arm and left leg, the officer reported.
The prosecutor said it was fortunate that the victim wasn't shot "in a vital area."
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