South Buffalo rapist Timothy DiCenzo thought his second victim was dead when he left her beaten and molested in a field behind a South Buffalo elementary school just before noon on Nov. 3, 2015, said Assistant Erie County District Attorney Ryan D. Haggerty.
She was a nursing student at the time and was walking to school when DiCenzo pounced on her from behind, said Haggerty. "He burnt her personal belongings and left her for dead."
On Friday afternoon in State Supreme Court, DiCenzo stood shackled and thin, wearing wire- frame glasses and a scraggly beard. He was motionless as he listened to his sentence of 35 years plus 20 years post-release supervision.
In pronouncing the sentence, State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller told DiCenzo he "had no confidence that this will not happen again."
"You are 34 now. Thirty-five years in prison is a lot different than life on the outside," Boller said.
Domestic Violence Bureau Chief Lynette Reda, Special Victims Bureau Chief Rosanne E. Johnson and Haggerty prosecuted the case.
DiCenzo declined to give a statement before he was was sentenced for the rapes of two women. The first occurred on May 7, 2013, near Southside Elementary School.
In that incident, the young woman was walking to catch a bus when DiCenzo attacked her from behind and began to tear her clothing off, Haggerty said. When she resisted, he beat her in the face.
On Nov. 3, 2015, DiCenzo was dressed in camouflage as he approached a woman at the Hillery Park Elementary School parking lot near the trail to the train bridge, according to a police report.
The victim told police DiCenzo put what appeared to be a black handgun to the back of her head and hit her several times with it as he forced her to a wooded spot, where he bound her with duct tape and raped her, detectives said.
She eventually freed herself and made her way to Mineral Springs Road, where she used someone's cell phone to call 911, police said. She was taken to Women & Children's Hospital, police said.
One week later, DiCenzo was picked up for questioning and brought to a third-floor interview room at Buffalo Police Headquarters on Franklin Street. When detectives stepped out of the room briefly to confer, DiCenzo broke a window lock, jumped out the window and fell 30 feet to the sidewalk.
Robert J. Cutting, a court-appointed defense attorney, described DiCenzo and his family as "unstable" with at least three family members including his client suffering from schizophrenia.
"He does not operate on the same plane or time frame as most people do," said Cutting. "There seems to be a barrier between him and the rest of the world."
Cutting considered a defense of "not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect," but the psychologist who evaluated DiCenzo said he did not satisfy the statutory requirements to assert a defense of insanity.
"He doesn't have the ability to understand and control some of these basic primal urges," said Cutting. "And to my knowledge no one in his family came to visit him during his incarceration."
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn commended the "courageous survivors of these vicious attacks."
“If it were not for their bravery, and their willingness to come forward to confront their attacker and hold him responsible, he would still be out there today,” said Flynn.