The judge said the defendant had been treated badly.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Five punches exchanged for three months of harassment equals one day in jail.
Norris Kelly, 38, of Warren, who was convicted Tuesday of assault, was sentenced Wednesday in municipal court to 180 days in jail but Judge Thomas Gysegem suspended 179 of them, noting Kelly had already served a day.
Kelly was taken to jail Tuesday afternoon after the judge convicted him of the misdemeanor charge. He was released after sentencing.
"Your case was tried in this court, and I did find you guilty. However, in the seven years I have been judge and in the 13 years prior to that when I was in the prosecutor's office, I don't think I've ever seen a case where someone was provoked to the extent that you were," Judge Gysegem told Kelly.
"The evidence in this case shows that you were treated very badly. Your employer let you down, but it does not justify what you've done."
The judge also declined to fine Kelly, who is now self-employed.
Kelly was convicted of assaulting a former co-worker at Gillette Nursing Home, 3310 Elm Road N.E., on April 14, 2001. Prosecutors said Kelly punched the woman in the face five times.
Kelly originally was charged with felonious assault, but a Trumbull County grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor assault charge and sent the case back to municipal court.
Kelly apologized before sentencing and said he should not have waited so long to report the matter to his employer.
"I seriously apologize for what I've done," Kelly said before sentencing. "She had been picking on me ever since I started working there. I finally reported it to the front office, but they didn't do anything. I didn't know what to do. I would ask you to take into consideration my anxiety and I would ask for mercy."
Kelly, who is black, further noted that the co-worker, who is white, harassed him about his race and his sexual orientation.
"I worked there for three months and this went on every day," Kelly said. "I just wanted to work and make some money."
Another former co-worker who attended the sentencing, Pat Baumgartner, said after the hearing that she saw what went on. "It was horrible and no one did anything about it," Baumgartner said.
Kelly, who worked as a nurse's assistant at the facility, said he was fired after he punched the co-worker, who still works there.
A man answering the phone at the nursing home Wednesday afternoon said officials there won't comment.