By Christine Dempsey, Hartford Courant
HARTFORD — A city man who repeatedly hit a woman in the head with a brick, nearly killing her, has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Jeffrey Acosta, 23, of Henry Street apologized for the crime Friday in Superior Court. He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault on Nov. 19.
His full sentence is 15 years in prison, suspended after six, followed by five years of probation. Judge Joan Alexander placed on Acosta on a “standing” protective order, meaning he is to stay away from his victim, Erin Kennedy, until 2063.
The sentence is the result of a plea deal designed to keep Kennedy from having to re-live the attack in court.
“While we would like to see Mr. Acosta get a longer sentence, we are satisfied that my daughter would not have to endure a trial,” said Suzanne Rodriguez.
According to the warrant for Acosta’s arrest, Kennedy was attacked Jan. 10 when she was with a friend in a stairwell of a James Street building. A man she didn’t know struck her in the head with what has been described as a brick or a piece of concrete or cinderblock.
She looked up at him and he hit her again, police said. The attacker stole her cell phone and purse before running away.
Police said she had a large cut on the left side of her head, bruising on the right side of her face and several teeth that had been knocked out. She suffers from a “massive depression skull fracture,” her doctor told them.
Rodriguez said her daughter kept her eyes open during the attack so she would remember her attacker’s face. As a result, she, in addition to her friend, were able to pick Acosta’s picture out of a photo array.
The down side is that Kennedy still sees Acosta’s face in nightmares, Rodriguez told the court.
Her doctor had to remove more than 50 pieces of her skull from her brain, she said, and wasn’t sure if she would survive.
Kennedy had to learn to talk and walk again during daily therapy, her mother said. She suffers from seizures.
“At least once a week she tells me she wishes Mr. Acosta had finished her off,” Rodriguez said.
Acosta apologized for the attack, but also blamed his victim.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt her. The reason I did hurt her is that I was a different person then,” Acosta said.
“I did hit her with a brick, but that’s because she attacked me first,” he said. The warrant says nothing about Kennedy assaulting Acosta; it says she and her friend were looking for drugs.
Rodriguez said outside the courtroom that her daughter didn’t attack Acosta. She thanked Det. Anthony Pia for his work on the case.
Her husband, Mario Rodriguez, said Kennedy “made some bad choices in her life, but that doesn’t mean she deserves that.”