The 88-year-old woman was aware something was up last September. The route she took home from the store was one not many people used and another car was following right behind.
She thought perhaps the people behind her were lost.
She couldn’t imagine they were there to brutally attack her, throw bleach on her and leave her for dead.
So, on her way to her door, she stopped at the mysterious car and offered assistance, an offer that was revealed for the first time Tuesday in court.
Moments after that offer, the women got out of the car and began the assault.
“This was a kind woman trying to do the kind thing,” Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago told one of the two attackers Tuesday, at the sentencing. “… and not only did you beat her, but you threw bleach at her. For what? So you could go shopping at AJ Wright? “It doesn’t get any worse than this.”
Drago on Tuesday sentenced Tiffany Tolliver, 22, and Dominique Lucas, 21, to lengthy sentences for their roles in the attack, Tolliver to an agreed-upon 18 years in state prison and Lucas to 16 years.
The sentencings were attended by the victim. She declined to give a statement, saying through Assistant District Attorney Ed Moynihan that she trusted in the judicial system. But she also told officials that the attack continues to shake her 10 months later.
“It’s a fear she lives with all the time,” Moynihan said.
When she walks, something that now doesn’t happen as often, she turns to see who is behind her, Moynihan said.
Gone is the sense of security she enjoyed up to Sept. 8, 2007.
Tolliver and Lucas admitted in May that on that day they followed the elderly woman from the Ocean State Job Lot store off Route 7 to the woman’s apartment in Rotterdam.
It was during the turn from Chrisler Avenue to Hamburg Street, an unusual route, that the woman first thought she was being followed, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said.
At the woman’s apartment complex, her offers of help rebuffed, the women attacked, beating her and taking her pocketbook. The woman put up a fight, refusing to give it up, but finally they wrestled it away.
It was during the attack that they threw the bleach, in an apparent attempt to blind the woman and prevent her from being able to make an identification.
The women were arrested a short time later as they left a store where they had used the victim’s credit card to make purchases, the AJ Wright store on Altamont Avenue, authorities said.
In court Tuesday, both Tolliver and Lucas made brief statements, minimizing their conduct. They were sentenced separately.
Through her attorney, Sven Paul, Lucas accepted responsibility for the crime and wished to extend her “heartfelt apologies.” Lucas wiped her eyes repeatedly during the sentencing.
But, after comments from Judge Drago, where the judge called their actions “barbaric,” Lucas gave a brief statement where she said she didn’t believe the comments fit her.
Tolliver appeared more defiant. Drago noted she appeared defensive.
Her attorney, Brian Mercy, said she expressed remorse and noted drug use.
But Tolliver said the woman was not targeted for her age. “What happened was not planned,” Tolliver said. “I’m no addict, I’m no criminal. I’m not depraved.”
Carney pointed out later that the women were driving around with bleach in a cup carried in the car’s console with contents spilling out.
The victim, who asked that her name not be used, suffered injuries to her ribs. When they were done, she couldn’t breathe and she couldn’t see. “In her words, she felt she was left to die,” Moynihan said.
It was only because when Tolliver and Lucas fled, hitting a wall with their car, that a neighbor called police. Believing it was a hit-and-run, the neighbor went out to investigate, to find the woman lying in a pool of blood.
The victim sat in the courtroom gallery Tuesday, and has largely recovered.
Carney himself spent a portion of the morning sitting with her, as did a district attorney’s victim’s advocate.
At the conclusion of one of the sentences, the advocate, her arm around the woman, gave her a reassuring squeeze.
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Categories: Schenectady County