Feb. 7-A man who stabbed his girlfriend 13 times, starting at one Windsor Locks hotel and continuing at another, got a break on immediate prison time Monday, when a judge sentenced him to the mandatory minimum of five years behind bars, despite the victim's last-minute request for more prison time.
Victor Virola, 37, of Hartford could have faced up to 10 years in prison under his plea bargain, in which he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault - and to lesser offenses in two other cases.
But Judge David P. Gold pointed out during the Hartford Superior Court sentencing that the reduction in the immediate prison time will be accompanied by an equal increase in the prison time Virola will face if he violates release conditions. During his three years on probation, Virola will face up to 10 more years behind bars for any violation.
DEFENDANT: Victor Virola, 37, of Hartford
CONVICTIONS: First-degree assault, third-degree assault, and drunken driving in separate incidents
SENTENCE: 15 years, suspended after five years in prison, followed by three years of probation
Prosecutor Vicki Melchiorre told the judge that the stabbing victim and her father, who was the victim of a less serious assault by Virola in Enfield four months before the stabbing, felt that her plea offer was too lenient and were concerned about their safety.
The judge said the victim shouldn't be criticized for having conflicting feelings. Until the letters from her and her father arrived Monday morning, he said, she had expressed a desire for Virola to get help rather than lengthy incarceration.
Melchiorre said Virola stabbed his girlfriend in the leg, abdomen, and hand. She said the woman required extensive treatment to regain use of her hand - and still doesn't have full use of it. As a result of the injury, she lost her job, the prosecutor added.
Melchiorre also said Virola has "a derogatory attitude toward women."
She said he acts violently toward himself and others when he uses PCP, having stabbed himself while using the drug. Virola claimed to be on PCP the night of the stabbing, May 20, 2021, she added.
Public defender Dana H. Sanetti said Virola's life wasn't good when he was growing up, in a family where there was some substance abuse and placement in foster families. When Virola was in ninth grade, the defense lawyer said, he thought he was grown up enough to take care of himself.
She said he believes PCP messed up his life.
The defense lawyer acknowledged that the stabbing was "horrific" and said Virola's girlfriend has described him as acting "bizarre and desperate" earlier that day.
When she showed Virola video of the stabbing incident, Sanetti said, he was "horrified" that he was the person shown, as he didn't remember the incident.
She also said she hasn't experienced a negative attitude toward women from him.
The judge said he has to look at the defendant as well as the crime.
At age 37, he said, Virola has only three previous convictions, none for violent crimes. His only felony conviction, in 2002, was for narcotics possession, which today is a misdemeanor, the judge said. He also said Virola never received a prison sentence and completed probation successfully after each conviction.
The judge issued a standing criminal protective order requiring Virola to stay away from the stabbing victim for life, saying it will effectively bar him from having contact with other members of her family as well.
He also ordered Virola to undergo any recommended substance-abuse and mental-health treatment and not to use drugs, even legal marijuana.
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