NEW YORK — Four lesbians convicted of assaulting a man who was stabbed after he made advances toward one of them were sentenced Thursday amid screams and weeping to prison terms ranging from 3 1/2 to 11 years.
More than two dozen court officers ringed the courtroom as Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin pronounced the sentences, which were usually punctuated by a moan, a wail or a comment of disbelief.
The judge made clear that he believed the women, ages 19 to 25 and all from Newark, N.J., were guilty. He said a surveillance tape of the fight was "damning" and "I believe that but for the videotape there would have been an acquittal."
The judge sentenced Patreese Johnson, 20, to 11 years in prison. Johnson admitted she had a knife and is seen on the videotape swinging it at the victim, Dwayne Buckle, who has called the incident "a hate crime against a straight man."
Renata Hill, 25, was sentenced to eight years by the judge, who said "she's seen re-instigating the event (fight) when it's over." He said that if it's true Buckle was stabbed in the second flare-up, "she bears some responsibility."
The judge called Venice Brown, 19, "an aggressor who ran after the victim," and he sentenced her to five years in prison. He said the videotape showed her "punching and pulling" Buckle during the fight.
Terrain Dandridge, 20, was the only defendant "who took some responsibility, finally, which is what nobody else did," the judge said in sentencing her to the least harsh prison term, 3 1/2 years.
While all the defendants wept visibly and audibly, Hill sobbed and screamed and collapsed to the floor after the sentencing and was lifted by court officers and carried out of the courtroom.
Three other women who were in the group previously pleaded guilty to attempted assault and were sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation.
The four sentenced Thursday were convicted April 18 after assaulting Buckle, who had made advances at one of the seven as they walked past him outside the Independent Film Center in Greenwich Village on Aug. 18, 2006.
Johnson testified at trial that her group told Buckle they were not interested and he became loud and rude, called them names and threw a cigarette at them while saying that having sex with him would make them straight. She said the fight started after Buckle pushed and shoved them.
Buckle, 29, testified that he was in a hospital for five days and in bed at home for a month after surgery for a lacerated liver and stomach. He said he also suffered cuts, bruises, scratches and an eye injury in the attack.
A lawyer for Hill, Susan Tipograph, called the verdict disappointing. She said the women were defending themselves from an "abusive, homophobic" Buckle. She and the other defense lawyers say they will appeal.
Buckle, of Queens, is a movie audio-video engineer and an independent filmmaker. He says he was trying to sell some of his DVDs on the street when the fight started.
He apparently was not in court for the sentencing.
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