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NY woman gets one year in jail for punching Wal-Mart greeter

By Zachary Cook

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York woman was sentenced on Monday under the state's "Granny Law" to one year in jail for punching an elderly Wal-Mart greeter in the face after a Christmas Eve shopping spree.

It was the second time the upstate New York woman, Jacquetta Simmons, 28, was sentenced in Genesee County Court, after her original sentence of five years in prison was successfully appealed with the argument that it was too harsh for a first-time offender.

"One punch shouldn't be enough" to trigger New York's tough Granny Law, which calls for harsher penalties for crimes against the elderly, said Simmons' lawyer, Earl Key.

Her legal team said the new sentence of a year behind bars was more appropriate.

Prosecutor Lawrence Friedman disagreed.

"This does not do justice to the victim at all," Friedman said.

On Christmas Eve 2011, Wal-Mart employee Grace Suozzi, then 70, routinely asked to see a shopping receipt as Simmons, who was a college student, exited the store in Batavia, New York. Instead, prosecutors said, Simmons punched Suozzi in the face, fracturing her nose and knocking her to the ground.

Simmons was convicted of assault and sentenced under New York's Granny Law, which ramps up penalties for intentionally harming someone over the age of 65 if the defendant is 10 or more years younger than the victim.

An increasing number of cases are being prosecuted under the law, which was passed in 2008 to protect New York senior citizens. In New York City in 2013, a total of 191 people were charged under the law compared with 129 arrested the previous year, according to police statistics.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Leslie Adler)

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