Judge cites history of violence in assault case
Coatesville man sentenced to 91/2 to 20 years in state jail
“It is clear he has anger management issues. I have to consider the protection of the public.” — Common Pleas Judge Anthony Sarcione, on Rickey R. Washington
Rickey R. Washington has displayed a violent temper in his 22 years on the planet, including assaults on the women in his life and even on the guards tasked with keeping him in line while in prison. But never had those crimes led to anything more severe than several months in Chester County Prison. Until now. On Monday, Common Pleas Judge Anthony Sarcione sentenced Washington to 91/2 to 20 years in jail, a sentence which he must serve in a state penitentiary. Washington, of Coatesville, had been convicted at trial of beating up two women he new as cousins after breaking into the city home where they were staying with children, and then later leading city police on a high speed car chase through the downtown area.
“I could have gone much higher,” said Sarcione, whose sentence matched that which the prosecutor in the case had asked for. Sarcione, in fashioning his sentence for Washington, noted that the defendant’s violence had begun even before he turned 18, earning him an expulsion from Coatesville Area Senior High.
“It is clear he has anger management issues,” the judge said. “I have to consider the protection of the public.”
Both the prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Morgan, and Washington’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ellen Koopman, agreed that Washington’s history of violence extended to his upbringing, in which his grandmother and mother had both been killed in domestic violence incidents, as had the mother of one of his children. But they disagreed as to what lesson the court should take from those experiences.
In Morgan’s case, Washington’s behavior showed that he had not learned from the violence around him.
“He is an incredibly violent person and he poses a risk to everyone around him,” she told the judge in arguing for the lengthy sentence. “He has been assaulting people since he was a child. He is too dangerous even to exist in our county prison system, and simply cannot exist in our society doing what he has been doing.”
Morgan cited previous convictions Washington had accumulated for assaulting one of the mothers of his four children, on separate occasions, and for beating a corrections officer in county prison while he was awaiting trial for one of the assaults. He also has a string of drug offense convictions dating back to the early 2000s.
Koopman, looking at his family’s violent history, said that his anger combined with an addiction to drugs made him even more volatile. “The anger and the drug abuse can go a long way to explaining Mr. Washington’s behavior,” she said. “He did not have the example of what others see as civilized society. He lived the way he was shown how to live.”
Washington was found guilty of burglary, aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and recklessly endangering another person after a jury trial before Sarcione in September.
According to Morgan’s version of events and court records, Washington assaulted the two women — Chekesha Pape and Renee Byrd — because he suspected them of stealing from him. They were identified as his cousins, but were also connected to him through a godmother that cared for him when he was younger.
On Jan. 19, Washington went to Pape’s house on South Brandywine Avenue in the city and broke down the door, looking for her and Byrd. He went to a second-floor bedroom, where he found the woman, and began punching Pape with his fists. He choked her, and then beat her with a metal broom handle, which broke during the assault. He then pushed Byrd down the stairs.
Both women were injured in the assault, during which Washington allegedly told them he would be “back to kill you.” Morgan said the attack had left them so traumatized that neither wanted to testify against him for fear of a reprisal. Neither appeared in court Monday for the sentencing.
Warrants were issued for Washington’s arrest after the assault. On the morning of Feb. 18, a city officer spotted Washington driving a Chevrolet Malibu on West Lincoln Highway and attempted to pull the car over. Washington sped off, leading the officer through the city streets during morning rush hour, running stop signs and speeding. He eventually abandoned the car in the 500 block of Madison Street and ran into a house.
Morgan said she believed that Washington had been carrying a loaded weapon at the time, which he ditched in the house. Three live rounds of ammunition were found in the car’s trunk.