A recent court opinion upheld a three to seven year state prison sentence for a young man captured on video punching and kicking his then-pregnant girlfriend.
Jaziah Strickland, 20, of Williamsport, got into an argument with the victim on May 28, 2019, when he was three months shy of his 19th birthday.
The incident was captured on video and played for the court at the time of sentencing, court records stated.
In the video, Strickland was angry, volatile, and physically aggressive, repeatedly punching the victim and kicking her in the torso with all his might, according to Lycoming County Judge Marc F. Lovecchio.
"The nature and circumstances of the offense were awful...Even defense counsel described the video as disturbing, which was an understatement," Judge Lovecchio wrote.
Strickland pleaded guilty to first degree felony aggravated assault on May 28, 2019. In exchange for his guilty plea, counts of aggravated assault of an unborn child, simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment were dismissed by the Commonwealth.
"Strickland was fortunate that he did not seriously and permanently injure his then-girlfriend or his unborn son," the judge wrote.
Strickland filed a motion to reconsider his sentence on June 6, 2019.
"Strickland alleged that: the court failed to consider his rehabilitative needs; the sentence was manifestly excessive in light of his ongoing mental health issues; and he would lose custody and the chance to be a father to his child," Judge Lovecchio wrote in the October 24, 2019, order.
That motion was denied June 11, 2019. Strickland already had been sentenced at the minimum end of the standard range, according to the judge.
On June 25, 2019, Strickland filed a motion to appeal that denial, but didn't include any supporting statement explaining the basis for his appeal.
On October 24, 2019, Judge Lovecchio denied Strickland's appeal, explaining that he had been sentenced at the bottom of the standard range, rather than in the aggravated sentencing range.
"Strickland is an angry young man, who cannot control his temper, which makes him a danger to the community. This was not an isolated incident. Strickland had a history of losing his temper and engaging in assaultive behavior," Judge Lovecchio wrote.
According to the judge, state prison will offer Strickland a more supportive environment.
"The county prison does not have the programs and services that the Department of Corrections can provide to Strickland," Judge Lovecchio wrote, citing programs related to anger management, decision-making, and parenting.
The state prison also has dual diagnosis groups and medication compliance programs to assist with Strickland's mental health issues, the judge wrote.
"Given all the facts and circumstances, the court found that the sentence of three to seven years’ incarceration in a state correctional institution was appropriate," Judge Lovecchio wrote.