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Appeals court reduces sentence for Lockport stabber

LOCKPORT – The sentence imposed on a City of Lockport man almost two years ago by State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. was too severe, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled earlier this month.

A unanimous five-judge panel reduced the sentence for Johnny Q. Russell, now 21, from four years in prison to two years, to be followed by three years of post-release supervision. It means Russell, whose earliest possible release date was supposed to be in February 2017, may be coming home soon.

On Jan. 10, 2014, Kloch imposed the four-year sentence on Russell, a John Street resident who admitted violating his five-year probation in a stabbing case. Russell had pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for stabbing a 17-year-old boy in the leg and arm June 10, 2012, on Elmwood Avenue in Lockport. The stabbing victim tried to help another youth from whom Russell had just stolen an iPod, police reported at the time.

Russell’s original probation sentence, imposed in October 2012, started the probation only after he served six months in the Niagara County Jail on the stabbing, and a year in an unrelated theft case. Russell had gone to jail two days after the stabbing for burglarizing a home and stealing a computer game system in Lockport on Sept. 23, 2011.

Russell violated the probation terms by failing to obtain counseling and a high school equivalency diploma. “We agree with the defendant that the sentence of incarceration is unduly harsh and severe under the circumstances of this case,” the appellate panel wrote. The Rochester-based court was not required to reduce the sentence by any provision of law; it did so “as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice.” The court’s one-page ruling did not offer any rationale for its belief that Russell should get a break.