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February 27, 2012 - 5:14pm

Woman accused of hitting Walmart employee on Christmas Eve appears in court with new attorney

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Jacquetta Simmons.

An attorney recently hired to represent Jacquetta Simmons, the 26-year-old Batavia resident accused of punching a 70-year-old Walmart employee on Christmas Eve, said after a court hearing today that he doesn't believe his client intended to hurt Grace Suozzi.

Based on his own interviews and statements he's read, Buffalo attorney Earl Key said there's a lot more to the story than has been reported so far.

"I don't believe my client intended to assault anyone," Key said. "The tape will tell me a lot. I've got to see the tape to see exactly what happened."

Key is concerned however, that the only tape available shows just the portion of the confrontation where Simmons allegedly hit Suozzi.

There's no indication that Simmons was suspected of stealing form the store. Key said she didn't steal anything and she had shown her receipt for the items in her bag.

He said Suozzi's own statement to police indicates she grabbed Simmons. Key said the information he has so far indicates Simmons was trying to push Suozzi away, not assault her.

The language of section 120.05 of the New York penal code states a person is guilty of assault in the second degree when "with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person he causes such injury to such person ..."

In court, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini said unless a plea agreement is reached first, the DA's office intends to send the case to the Grand Jury for possible indictment.

Simmons is also charged with a provision of the assault in the second degree statute that is fairly new, making it a felony to assault a person 65 or older.

Key said he needs to study that statute further, but he believes the law is being misapplied in this case.

Among the evidence gathered by Key so far is a copy of Walmart's policy about demanding that customers show receipts.

He said typically store policy is that an employee never grab a customer. If they suspect a person of stealing, they're supposed to call the police.

Key acknowledged that the case has been contentious in comments on local and regional media sites, but said his client naturally regrets what happened.

"My client is an upstanding citizen," Key said. "She’s bright, she’s young, she’s a college student, she has no criminal history, of course she regrets it. I haven’t seen the medical records, but if the victim has the injuries alleged, then of course she’s truly, truly sorry."

Simmons is scheduled to next appear in Town of Batavia Court on March 26.

Jeffrey Houseknecht
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There are so many upstanding citizens assaulting others I just can't remember any of them. If I remember right it was the bag that Mrs. Suozzi grabbed and not Ms. Simmons.I just love how these defense attorneys make excuses and I'm sure that we could never understand what we would see on the tape.I'm sure that Mrs. Suozzi is not the victim here,but obviously it will be Ms Simmons.When you clench your fist and slam it into someone else's face you obviously don't intend to assault them.Funny way to say have a nice day.

Lisa Falkowski
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Is this attorney serious? Come on. The girl's life shouldn't be ruined over this, but she assaulted a woman severely. Step up to the plate, pay your dues, and go on with your life as you should. In the meantime, let's make right by the victim.

Charlie Mallow
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Go to Jail

Go directly to Jail

Do not pass Go

Do not collect $200

Greg Siedlecki
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I REALLY hope that Walmart has the entire loop of the incident on tape because if they don't, this guy (Earl Key) is going to try anything. And even if they have the entire incident, this could get crazy when he tries to show that "his client" is the victim!

Peter O'Brien
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Must be nice to have your church pay your attorney fees.

Jason Crater
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It's about time an attorney stand up for the little person against the abuses continually administered by our county's elderly population.

[sarcasm, if you couldn't tell]

Ron C Welker
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Get the book out and be ready to throw it!

Peter O'Brien
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Based on some of the people who post here, this could be serious.

John Woodworth JR
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Hmmm? "Key said the information he has so far indicates Simmons was trying to push Suozzi away, not assault her." Can anyone explain to me how punching someone in the face was trying to push someone away? Is this lawyer for real or a cracker jack lawyer? Really why would someone make a fist and strike someone in the face to push away? If, that was her intention then she should of been open handed and could have pushed Suozzi's arm away or pushed against her shoulder. Sounds like another case of "BULL_ _ _ _!"

Jason Crater
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I think the closed-fist face push is a UFC move.

John Woodworth JR
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Very true Jason maybe, the UFC should call it the "The Granny Facial Push (GFP)!"

Kyle Couchman
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In the articles I read, it seems that Jaquetta's Lawyer has not viewed the security tapes yet. I'm willing to bet that he's not really gonna want to continue this defense at all. If I remember correctly she broke the orbital socket of Grace's eye, which is a hard injury even in an older person to do. Also the impact of the punch was reported by witnesses to throw Grace almost 10 feet across the floor. That combined with the fact I remember that Jaquetta threw the punch while 2 service managers and her male companion were trying to calm her down pretty much will tear apart this defense.

I hope the DA doesnt plead out and allows this to be tried by a jury.

Mardell Lamb
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Does anyone know how Grace is doing?

John Woodworth JR
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Yeah Kyle, they probably will plead deal since, Simmons is as Key stated,

"My client is an upstanding citizen," Key said. "She’s bright, she’s young, she’s a college student, she has no criminal history, of course she regrets it."

Yeah, just because, she has no criminal history does not mean she is innocent. I wonder if, she has made any attempts to apologize to MS. Suozzi? If not, then her regretting the incident is just another "BS" story! Why, show her leniency when her defense is BS? Simmons was probably pissed about having her bags checked. If, Suozzi actually grabbed Simmons arm then it is my guess, Simmons thought game on!

RICHARD L. HALE
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"She's bright..... she's young.....she's a college student......she has no criminal record."

She just gets pissed at her elders...ONCE in a while.

John Woodworth JR
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Richard, curious about your duel postings what are you saying? Do you support or not, MS Simmons lawyer's statement and his defense strategy for her? Personally, I think it is truly "BS"!

Nathan Oaksford
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What does going to college have to do with being an upstanding citizen? There are plenty of posterior-wipes that go to college.

Ask people at Kent state in 1970 if going to college makes you a good citizen.

Nathan Oaksford
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Personally I wish people would start to be responsible for their actions. Sometimes people mess up, but that doesn't mean you can avoid penalty.

It was obviously bad enough where many customers followed her to her vehicle to block her escape waiting for police.

John Woodworth JR
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Great point Nathan. That is one of the problems with today's society, people do not want to take responsibility for their actions. People are always looking for blame for their actions.

Kyle Couchman
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Well if I was the DA I'd take a gamble on this one. Unless the police dropped the documentation ball it seems there were alot of witnesses and evidence both to the act of violence and her attempt to flee as well. The fact that she tried to flee should really show that not only did she know she messed up but that the thought she could get away before being made "responsible" for her actions, not that she was defending herself as her attorney is supposing.

John Woodworth JR
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Yeah Kyle, I just wonder if, MR Key hears and understands what he is saying. I know "You are innocent until proven guilty" but, this seems as you say have a lot of witnesses and her actions seem less then credible. Just sounds to me that, Simmons’ lawyer and her are going to try to make her look like the victim. I can see it now, “She was trying to check my bag as if, I was a shoplifter!” 

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