A state appeals court has rejected a Glens Falls man’s appeal of his convictions for sexually assaulting a neighbor, but the court ruled that his sentence should be reduced by 7 years.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court found that Michael J. Butkiewicz is not entitled to a new trial for the brutal attack of his neighbor on Oct. 18, 2015. He attacked the woman after tricking her into going to his apartment by claiming he was locked out, brutally beating her and attempting to rape her but halting the attack as she reasoned with him.
Butkiewicz, 37, was found guilty of attempted rape, sexual abuse and strangulation after a July 2016 trial in Warren County Court. Warren County Judge John Hall sentenced him to the maximum of 29 years in state prison, but the Appellate Division found that Hall should not have directed that sentences for attempted rape and sexual abuse run consecutively.
The court found that since sexual abuse is an element of attempted rape, the sentences should run concurrently. So that decision reduces Butkiewicz’s prison term to 22 years, though he is eligible for parole after 20 years with either sentence.
Butkiewicz was not as fortunate when trying to convince the court that he should get a new trial.
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His lawyer, Kristin Bluvas, claimed that there was insufficient evidence to prove the attempted rape charge, despite the victim’s graphic testimony of the attack. She pointed to “inconsistencies” in the woman’s story, but the Appellate Division found no reason to reverse the convictions on those claims.
“According deference to the jury’s credibility assessments, and viewing the evidence in a neutral light, we conclude that the verdict convicting defendant of attempted rape in the first degree is supported by the weight of the evidence,” Appellate Division Justice Phillip Rumsey wrote.
The court also rebuffed a claim that evidence stemming from seizure of Butkiewicz’s cellphone was improperly considered by the jury.
Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone said he was happy to hear that the convictions were upheld, and that the sentence would be unaffected because of the state rule that made it 20 years because of the level of crimes.
Butkiewicz is being held in Eastern Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Ulster County, and is eligible for parole in 2032.