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Assault nets 22-year-old prison term

YOUNGSTOWN — Anthony J. Defrance Jr., 22, of South Lakeview Avenue, was sentenced to 3 to 4 1/2 years in prison Tuesday after he pleaded guilty in December to felonious assault in a late Sept. 3, fight over parking at the Get Go, 133 Boardman Poland Road in Boardman.

The sentence was recommended jointly by prosecutors and the defense. Prosecutors will “stand silent” when the time comes for Defrance to apply for judicial release, which is an early release from prison approved by the judge handling the case, Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The assault resulted in the victim being knocked unconscious and suffering a broken wrist at 11:40 p.m. Defrance left the scene afterward. A Boardman officer made a traffic stop on Defrance’s vehicle later and determined he was the person involved in the assault.

A witness said he saw Defrance’s vehicle back into a parking space next to another car near the front of the store. The victim walked to the front of his car to check the distance between his car and Defrance’s car, and Defrance started to yell at the victim, saying the distance was fine.

Defrance then got out of his car and yelled profanities at the victim, then punched him several times. The witness said Defrance also chased the victim and knocked him to the ground and punched him additional times. A female with Defrance tried to get Defrance to stop punching, the report states. Defrance left the scene after the victim fell unconscious.

During the traffic stop, an officer saw that Defrance was wearing the same color sweatshirt as the suspect and had the same type of car. The officer saw that Defrance had blood on his knuckles.

Defrance told the officer the victim yelled at Defrance after he backed up, saying Defrance nearly struck the victim’s vehicle, but Defrance told him the victim “came at him aggressively and kept getting in his face.” Defrance said he told the victim to leave him alone, but the man would not. Defrance said he pushed the victim away, which caused the victim to fall to the ground.

The victim told police he was eating in his car and asked Defrance to move his vehicle, causing Defrance to start yelling. The victim said at one point he put his forearm up, and Defrance punched him a couple of times in the face and slammed him onto the ground. He said that is when he blacked out. The victim called the suspect “really tall.”

Doctors confirmed the victim’s arm was broken. The officer observed blood on the victim’s eye, cheek, nose and mouth with bruising around his eye.

The victim did not attend the sentencing hearing but wrote a letter asking that Defrance get a long prison sentence.

Defrance has two previous misdemeanor convictions — petty theft and assault, both in 2021, said Steve Maszczak, assistant county prosecutor.

Ed Hartwig, Defrance’s lawyer, said Defrance, who had not been drinking, and a female stopped to get a Coke after seeing a movie. The victim had been drinking, Hartwig said, adding that Defrance tried to avoid the confrontation. He said the victim had no head injury.

Lots of people wrote letters to say what a good guy he is, Hartwig said.

Krichbaum said he can imagine that the victim said things to anger Defrance, but a better response is not to react. Defrance said the reason he chased the victim was because it appeared possible the victim was headed in the direction of Defrance’s girlfriend, and he wanted to protect her.

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