Boston, May 29, 2014— An habitual offender has been sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for a racially-based assault that left one of his victims permanently disfigured, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.
ROBERT O’CONNOR (D.O.B. 11/21/67) of South Boston was convicted in March of mayhem, a civil rights violation with injuries, and two counts of assault and battery in connection with a 2012 bar fight. Jurors in that trial were not allowed to hear of his extensive criminal history.
In a second trial held last week, a separate jury adjudicated him an habitual offender based on numerous prior felony convictions, a finding that exposed O’Connor to a mandatory sentence of the maximum term of incarceration allowed under the law on his latest convictions.
At sentencing yesterday, Assistant District Attorney David Bradley of the DA’s Senior Trial Unit recommended sentences of 20 years for the offense of mayhem, 10 years for violating the victim’s civil rights, and 2 ½ years for each count of assault and battery – all to be served consecutively for a total of 35 years in state prison.
Judge Patrick Brady sentenced O’Connor to serve 20 years in prison on the mayhem charge and concurrent sentences of 10 years for violating the victim’s civil rights and 2 ½ years for assault and battery. Brady imposed an additional consecutive term of 2 ½ years for committing an assault and battery on a second victim.
At trial, Bradley presented evidence and testimony to prove that on Aug. 5, 2012, O’Connor entered Croke Park bar in South Boston, where he attempted to pick a fight with the victim by calling the man a racial slur as the two played pool.
O’Connor then began pushing a bar employee before pulling out a knife and holding it to the man’s leg, prosecutors sought to prove. The employee convinced O’Connor to put the knife away, but O’Connor continued to push and grab him. Using a pool stick, the employee attempted to get O’Connor out of the bar. A physical struggle ensued, during which the employee, assisted by the victim and a second employee, got O’Connor out of the bar.
Once outside, O’Connor again called the victim a racial slur and the two agreed to cross the street in order to fight. During the fight, O’Connor grabbed the victim’s head, leaned in, and bit and ripped off a large portion of the victim’s lip. The evidence showed that O’Connor then swallowed it.
As responding Boston Police interviewed the bar employee, O’Connor emerged from an alleyway across the street from the bar and attempted to run from officers. He was apprehended after a brief pursuit and was found to have blood on his clothing and facial injuries consistent with having recently been in a fight. Neither the knife allegedly used in the assault on the bar employee nor the victim’s lip were recovered.
Prosecutors indicted O’Connor as an habitual offender based on a 2007 conviction for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for an attack on a fellow inmate at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction, convictions that same year for breaking and entering and larceny, and a 1986 conviction for a firearms offense.
Jennifer Sears was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. O’Connor was represented by attorney Albert Cullen.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.