JOHNSTOWN - A Gloversville man was sentenced to seven years in state prison Monday for assaulting a man the same night he was stabbed to death in 2010.
Derrick R. Paul, 30, of County Highway 146, was sentenced before Judge Polly A. Hoye for his guilty pleas to felony second-degree assault and felony tampering with physical evidence in a case involving the late Brian Morrison of Johnstown.
Paul received seven years in prison and two years of post-release supervision for the assault charge and 1 1/3 to four years in prison for the tampering charge. The sentences will run concurrently.
Derrick R. Paul stands next to his attorney, Jeremiah Wood of Gloversville, during his sentencing Monday.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
Rebecca L. Morrison, the widow of Brian Morrison, reads a statement on behalf of the family during the sentencing of Derrick R. Paul on Monday in Fulton County Court.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
As part of his plea arrangement, Paul waived his right to appeal, Hoye said.
Paul was arrested by Gloversville police July 2. He was accused of assaulting and robbing the 42-year-old Morrison before he was stabbed to death.
Authorities said Paul assaulted Morrison on Bleecker Street in Gloversville and took his wallet between 11:30 p.m. and midnight July 6, 2010. Shortly after that, Morrison was stabbed to death, police said.
Paul was not accused of stabbing Morrison. Authorities are continuing to search for the person who actually stabbed and killed Morrison.
"He wouldn't see the light of day if it was up to me," Morrison's widow, Rebecca Morrison, said of Paul after the sentencing.
Before the sentencing, Rebecca Morrison read a statement on behalf of herself and the family.
"He stopped to have a drink with his friend and should have returned home to his family; instead, he was assaulted and robbed by you," Morrison said to Paul. "You saw someone who you thought was weak and unable to defend himself in the state he was in. You didn't take in into consideration that he had a family that depended on him; you saw an easy mark."
Morrison said she feels Paul's actions led to her husband's death.
"You hid his belongings and hindered finding out what actually happened that night," she said. "We've been told you are only responsible for assaulting him; we believe your actions ultimately resulted in his death."
She said the family believes Paul knows more of what happened that night and urged him to come forward with more information.
"I ask again if you know anything that can give me and my children and his family closure that you help us," she said.
Paul showed little emotion and blankly stared at the table in front of him while Morrison read her statement.
However, Paul addressed Rebecca and the Morrison family before he was sentenced.
In response to Morrison's statement, Paul stated, "I just want to let you know that what I did was wrong and I understand that and I'm paying for what I did, but I [swear to] you on everything I love. I don't know anything else of that night that happened other than what I did and, as I say, I'm ashamed to hear that it has to - I'm sorry that you have to go through that."
He made brief eye contact with Morrison during his statement but primarily kept his focus toward the ground.
Paul was indicted by a county grand jury June 28 on charges of second- and third-degree robbery, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence, all felonies, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
The grand jury said Paul's crimes against Morrison occurred before Morrison was stabbed.
Gloversville police have not charged anyone with stabbing Morrison to death.
Gloversville police Capt. Anthony Clay previously said Morrison was alive when he left Doc's Remedy Inn on Bleecker Street about 11:30 p.m. July 6, 2010. Some time between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, Clay said, police believe Paul assaulted Morrison, and - after a separate incident - Morrison's body was found by Stephanie Moore on Bleecker Street with stab wounds to the neck. Morrison was taken to Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, where he was pronounced dead.
The grand jury's indictment alleged Paul punched Morrison in the jaw, rendering him unconscious, and stole Morrison's wallet. The indictment further alleged that on July 6 or 7, 2010, Paul hid the wallet, which had no money in it, then destroyed it by burning it. Paul at the time was living in an apartment on Bleecker Street.
District Attorney Louise Sira said Paul has not been eliminated as a suspect in the murder of Morrison.
Sira said the seven-year term given to Paul is the maximum sentence. She said the court took into consideration that Paul hindered the investigation and the victim ultimately died.
The homicide investigation remains a top priority of the Police Department and the District Attorney's Office, Sira said.
She urges anyone with information to contact the Gloversville Police Department's Detective Division at 773-4514 or the Fulton County Anonymous Crime Tips Hotline at 736-5561.
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at email@example.com.