A Fresno man who assaulted a 62-year-old man at the Manchester Center bus stop — a crime captured by a bystander’s cell phone camera — was sentenced Friday to two years in prison after a judge noted the defendant’s mental disabilities.
“When I saw the news broadcast (of the assault) I was shocked at the level of violence from someone as large and muscular as you,” Judge Alvin Harrell III told 29-year-old Gregory Gibson III, who wore shackles in Fresno County Superior Court.
“Pushing a feeble man to the concrete,” Harrell said. “I can’t see how that is appropriate.”
But after defense attorney Stephanie Negin explained Gibson’s documented reports of his mental disabilities that causes him to be paranoid and delusional, Harrell said he had a better understanding of what happened on Dec. 15 last year at the busy bus stop.
In announcing the punishment, Harrell said Gibson was not suitable for probation since he has a prior felony conviction for domestic violence in 2009. “Your potential for violence places the public at risk,” the judge said.
But Harrell gave Gibson a break, sentencing him to two years in prison, instead of three years that the prosecution had sought.
In March, Gibson pleaded no contest to a felony charge of inflicting injury on an elderly person — John Raymond Medina.
Fresno police say Medina was coming to the aid of a teenager being bullied when he was attacked.
A video taken by a bystander with a cellphone shows the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Gibson pushing Medina, who hit his head on his walker before falling to the ground. Medina later told police he blacked out for a minute and injured the back of his head and lower back.
In court Friday, Negin said Gibson was sorry for hurting Medina. She also said it’s unclear what really sparked the confrontation, noting for the record that the victim had been drinking that day. She also said Medina never blacked out, but did suffer minor injuries.
Negin said Gibson had been under stress. His apartment had burned down recently and he was living with his mother. Though he had a job, Gibson was struggling financially to make ends meet, Negin said.
In her argument, Negin told the judge that Gibson doesn’t have the mental ability to evaluate a situation and just walk away from it. She asked Harrell to sentence Gibson to probation and a year-long anger management class “so he can learn to control his emotions.”
But Harrell denied the request, telling Gibson that he was fortunate to have Negin defending him.
He also said Gibson was lucky he didn’t kill Medina. If Medina had died from being pushed to the ground, “you would be facing murder charges,” Harrell said.
Gibson told the judge he understood.
Because of time served in jail, Gibson should be released from prison about this time next year, Negin said.