BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Surveillance video that captured an assault at the Walmart in Batavia told a compelling story. The jury took very little time to convict Jacquetta Simmons on Friday.
The 27-year-old showed very little emotion as a Genesee County jury read the verdict of guilty on second degree assault charges for what happened last Christmas Eve. Video from the store appears to back up witness accounts that Simmons punched 70-year-old Walmart greeter Grace Suozzi, who you can see go flying to the floor.
Defense attorney Earl Key claimed, "She didn't know she hit Miss Suozzi until she looked at the tape."
Suozzi says she had asked Simmons to see her receipt, a store policy. Key says Simmons was only trying to pull her bag back from the employee.
"I think the video clearly shows her being held. I don't know because I haven't talked to the jury, how they interpret that, though. I think the video clearly shows someone from behind grabbing her arm," Key argued.
But after watching that video seven more times Friday afternoon, four times in slow motion, jurors handed down the unanimous guilty verdict.
Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said, "Obviously we're very pleased with the result. It's what we thought was the right result. It's what we were anticipating and we're very pleased that the jury did the right thing."
Jurors also saw the video outside the store, where customers actually used their cars to block Simmons' car in so she couldn't get away.
Obviously a lot of people were there. We interviewed twice as many as [the prosecutor] had testify," Friedman said.
Simmons is now free on bail until sentencing in November, but her attorney will appeal this on several grounds.
-"Well I think the media coverage, no offense to you all, definitely hurt her chances of a fair trial," Key said. "In jury selection, we didn't have one juror....well, we had a couple, but not too many who said they had not heard of the case."
Friedman countered, "Unfortunately, many people said they couldn't set those opinions aside and of course they didn't end up on the jury."
Simmons could be sentenced to anywhere from probation to up to seven years in jail because of the new Granny Law in NYS, which stiffens the penalties for those convicted of assaulting anyone over 65-years-old.
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