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May 3, 2013

Appellate court upholds Pacherille's sentence

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — COOPERSTOWN — A state appeals court Thursday rejected an appeal of the 11-year prison term meted out in Otsego County Court to Anthony Pacherille Jr., the teenager convicted in connection with the 2010 shooting of a classmate at the Cooperstown village police station.

The Appellate Division, Third Department, found there was no bias against Pacherille by Otsego County Judge Brian Burns when he sentenced Pacherille after the youth pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder and accepted a plea agreement. The Appellate Division affirmed the sentencing.

The attorney who filed the appeal on behalf of Pacherille, Frank Policelli of Utica, and family members of Pacherille argued the sentence was excessive. Policelli did not return a telephone message left at his office.

Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl called the Appellate Division ruling appropriate.

“It was a frivolous appeal,” Muehl told The Daily Star, “that I never doubted for an instant would be denied.”

Pacherille, who turned 19 years old in March, was sentenced in 2011 in connection with the shooting of his then Cooperstown High School classmate, Wesley Lippitt. After shooting Lippitt in the arm, Pacherille shot himself in the chin.

Pacherille’s parents have depicted their son as a victim of bullying who was suffering mental stress at the time of the incident. Both teens recovered from their wounds.

Muehl said he had responded to the appeal by reminding the court that Pacherille waived his right to appeal when he accepted a plea agreement.

“There was no way the judge could have given him youthful offender status because the agreed-upon sentence was 11 years, and the maximum sentence you can give someone to be a youthful offender is four years,” Muehl said. “So it wasn’t even possible.”

The prosecutor added: “Secondly, under the law, if someone is convicted of an armed felony, which he was, unless there are certain exceptions, which are not applicable here, they are not entitled to be a youthful offender.”

Policelli had argued that Pacherille should have been treated as a youthful offender. The lawyer also claimed that Burns should have recused himself from the sentencing after the judge indicated he felt intimidated by a letter that Pacherille’s father sent to him.

But the appellate court said Burns “properly exercised his responsibility at the time of sentencing.”

Muehl said Pacherille could still potentially ask the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to review the sentence.

Pacherille is serving the sentence at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, Clinton County, just west of Plattsburgh.