Derek Jeter during batting practice before playing against the Los...

Derek Jeter during batting practice before playing against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. (Aug. 10, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Minutes after Nassau Court Judge Jerald Carter sentenced to prison the man who stabbed an 8-year-old boy in a Westbury restaurant, Carter asked the boy's mother who his favorite sports star is.

"Derek Jeter," answered Lisa DalFonso.

"You tell your son . . . he will be as big as Derek Jeter" when the defendant is released, Carter told DalFonso, responding to the mother's concerns that her son had grown fearful since the random attack.

What Carter did not say at that time was that he had played college baseball with the Yankee shortstop's father, Charles Jeter, at Fisk University in Tennessee, and the two had maintained a relationship.

A few weeks later, a package arrived at the boy's home. Newsday is not naming the boy, now 9, at his mother's request and because he was the victim of a crime. In it, there was a signed baseball, an autographed photo of Jeter, a Yankees teddy bear, a magnet, and a copy of "Derek Jeter's All-Star Manual: 10 Life Lessons," DalFonso said.

"He was overwhelmed," DalFonso said. "He was so excited, he called his dad right away."

DalFonso had told Carter in September when the judge sentenced Evan Sachs to 14 years in prison that her son had been completely traumatized by the October 2010 attack.

Sachs, 24, of Merrick, stabbed the boy five times in the back with a hunting knife as the boy played video games at Dave & Buster's, prosecutors said.

DalFonso, who used her maiden name to protect her son's identity, said he won't go to birthday parties or public places anymore, and looks over his shoulder "a thousand times a day."

Carter did not tell DalFonso that he had arranged for the package, but DalFonso did some detective work and figured it out. When she approached Carter to thank him, the judge invited the boy to his chambers in the Mineola courthouse.

When the boy arrived, Carter said he took out a map of New York State and showed the boy how far his Long Island home is from where Sachs is in prison. He took the child to see the holding cell near his courtroom, and had him shake the bars to show him how strong they are.

"I wanted to give him some idea that he is safe from this person, and that this is not going to happen again," Carter said.

DalFonso said it made a difference. "I think he feels better," she said.

At the end of the visit, Carter dropped another surprise: In the spring, he said, Jeter would like the boy to sit in his box for a Yankee game.

"If that happens," DalFonso said, "it will be the highlight of his first nine years."

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