Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl defended Burns’ handling of the sentence, noting the judge had considered youthful offender status even though Pacherille Jr. was not eligible for it because he had committed an armed felony.
“It was incumbent for the defendant to come forward with mitigating circumstances” that related to the manner in which the crime was committed, and there were no such mitigating circumstances, the district attorney said.
“Not one expert said he wasn’t criminally responsible for his crime,” Muehl added. “He knew what he was doing and knew what that he was doing was wrong. If the family says differently, they’re not telling the truth.”
Albany attorney Terence Kindlon, who has represented dozens of defendants charged with violent offenses, said it is rare for the Court of Appeals to agree to hear appeals on criminal convictions.
Kindlon also said it appears that the Court of Appeals has accepted the case with an eye towards clarifying the responsibilities of judges in evaluating defendants eligible for youthful offender status before meting out a sentence.
Pacherille Jr., who is white, was charged with a hate crime after using a racial epithet when he shot the victim, Wesley Lippitt, who is an African-American. Facing a potential sentence of 25 years in prison, Pacherille Jr. avoided a trial by striking a plea agreement that called for the 11-year prison sentence.
If his appeal fails, he will not be entitled to a parole hearing until July 2019, when he will be 25 years old. His family members contend the shooting resulted because he had been tormented by bullies at the high school until he finally snapped.