A state appellate court has reduced two felony assault convictions to a misdemeanor in the case of a Syosset man found guilty of throwing bricks off a parkway overpass in 2015 and leaving a vehicle passenger with an eye injury.
The court found that the part of the May 2017 Nassau jury verdict convicting Jacob Palant of first-degree assault and second-degree assault “was against the weight of the evidence,” according to its Oct. 9 decision.
The ruling from the Appellate Division’s Second Judicial Department changes those convictions into a third-degree assault conviction, concluding there was a “lack of medical testimony to explain the nature of the victim’s eye injury.”
Convictions on felony assault charges require proof that a victim suffered “serious physical injury,” the decision notes.
A Nassau judge sentenced Palant, now 23, to five years in prison in March 2018. But the ruling means he’ll have to be resentenced.
Palant’s attorney, Donna Aldea, said Thursday she expects the top overall sentence he’ll face now is 1 to 3 years behind bars.
The Garden City attorney said that while the case was “very troubling,” it also was “overcharged.”
But Nassau District Attorney’s Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said Thursday that prosecutors “respectfully disagree with the decision.”
Prosecutors alleged at trial that on Dec. 26, 2015, Palant and co-defendant Andrew Denton, now 21, hurled bricks and cinder blocks at vehicles from a Uniondale overpass on the Meadowbrook State Parkway.
A paving brick crashed through the windshield of a BMW, sending glass shards into the left eye of a college student who testified during their trial that she suffered a permanent scar on her cornea and had blurry vision in that eye.
A projectile also hit a Jeep, doing about $5,000 in damage, according to authorities.
The jury’s convictions of Palant on two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, also felonies, and three counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief, which are misdemeanors, will stand, according to the appellate court’s ruling.
He is due back in Nassau County Court on Nov. 6.
State records show Denton, whom the jury convicted on the same charges, is serving a prison term with a release date of 2024 at the earliest.