Man gets year in jail in parking-punch case

June 22, 2012 3:03:10 PM PDT
A man who punched a woman in the face over a parking spot was sentenced Friday to a year in jail for a confrontation that left her brain-damaged, with a judge ruing that she couldn't hand down a harsher penalty.

The yearlong jail term was the maximum sentence for Oscar Fuller's misdemeanor assault conviction in a case that was spotlighted as an extreme example of conflict over space - even parking space - in the nation's biggest city. A jury acquitted Fuller last month of a more serious felony charge.

The 36-year-old electrician, who had said he lashed out at Lana Rosas in self-defense, told a court Friday he was "sorry for the whole situation."

"Me and Lana Rosas were in an altercation that went the wrong way," he said.

To Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Bonnie Wittner, Fuller's apology fell short of taking responsibility.

"I don't believe he truly admits this incident was his fault," she said. "If anyone heard this outside the courtroom, they would say, just on common sense, a year is not enough."

Fuller acknowledged hitting Rosas in February 2011 in downtown Manhattan. He was pulling into a space that she was trying to save for her boyfriend.

Rosas had been looking forward to the couple's date that night and to a couple of job interviews, recalled her mother, Angie Harrison.

"She was so hopeful until she met Oscar Fuller's fist," Harrison told the court.

Rosas, 26, was knocked off her feet and hit her head on the ground. She was in a coma for a time and still is undergoing rehabilitation.

Fuller drove away, but witnesses got his license-plate number.

The Manhattan district attorney's office called the blow a brutal attack. Defense lawyer Thomas Kenniff said that Fuller punched Rosas after she hit him, and that he never foresaw or intended such serious injuries.

The case drew attention as a window on a cramped and competitive city. The Los Angeles Times said it showed "the weightiness of New York City's parking woes."

Fuller was convicted after two trials. His first jury, allowed to consider only a felony assault charge, deadlocked in November. The second jury was also allowed to weigh a misdemeanor assault charge and convicted him of it.

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