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Courtroom Surprises Delay Yang Case Sentence

What the judge heard just before imposing sentence brought everything to a sudden halt.

Courtroom Surprises Delay Yang Case Sentence

Two courtroom surprises brought the sentencing hearing for one of the two convicted teenagers in the Yang's market attack and robbery to an unexpected and sudden halt Tuesday afternoon in a West Chester Courtroom.

While reviewing all the facts of the case before imposing a sentence on Octavio Sandoval of Berwyn Judge Phyllis Streitel was told that Sandoval was on juvenile probation when he and an accomplice robbed Yong Yang as he got into his delivery van outside Yang's Market on January 18. The judge was also told by the Sandoval's public defender that Sandoval had been "put on restriction" while awaiting sentencing in Chester County prison. According to the defense attorney Sandoval had gotten a tattoo inside the jail, in violation of the rules. That landed him lockdown for a time. According to the public defender that restriction had ended before Sandoval's court appearance Tuesday.

Both of those revelations prompted the judge to say she wanted to wait for results of a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report before imposing sentence on Sandoval. 

Prosecutors and defense attorneys entered the courtroom with a plea deal that included a sentence of 4-8 years in prison, followed by 20 years probation and several other stipulations.

Both sides in the case had said they were willing to waive the PSI. The judge told Sandoval's attorney to take a minute to once again tell Sandoval what he was agreeing to to be sure the teen understood that he was giving up a right to have the report before sentencing.

Sandoval, 18 at the time of the attack, and Sean Christopher Mitten pleaded guilty to attacking Mr. Yang as he got into his delivery van outside the former Yang's Market back in January. Sandoval, according to his court statements punched Mr. Yang in the face during the attack.  Sandoval was holding a knife in his hand as he punched Mr. Yang in the face during the attack and robbery.

While going down the list of facts in the case the judge said that she had a note from the case that Sandoval was on probation in a juvenile case conviction when he and Mitten beat and robbed Mr. Yang.

The prosecutor said that there was no record of that in the records his office had searched before agreeing to a deal. That revelation, which Sandoval himself confirmed in court, would change the sentencing guidelines and thus what the prosecution would agree to.

In further questioning, the judge asked Sandoval's attorney if there had been any problems for Sandoval in prison.  That's when the public defender revealed Sandoval had been "put on restriction" inside the jail.

At that point the judge said she wanted to wait for the pre-sentence investigation of Sandoval's background to see if there was anything else she should be aware before imposing sentence. Both sides agree to waive the requirement for a sentence within 90 days of the guilty verdict (Sandoval pleaded guilty in August).

No new sentencing date has been set.

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