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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2001

Mailman's attacker sentenced to 6 years

Sam Burzynski said yesterday that he's not the same man he was before a group of rampaging youths severely beat him in an unprovoked attack last year while he was delivering mail at a Toledo housing project.

The U.S. postal carrier gave a tearful statement in Lucas County Common Pleas Court before Terrance Belle, one of the young men who attacked him, was sentenced to five years in prison.

“I do things in a different way than what I used to and have been told by family and friends of this,” said Mr. Burzynski, who was dressed in his uniform. “They wish that the person I once was would come back. I am unable to enjoy the things I really like to do.”

Judge Robert Christiansen sentenced Belle, 18, of Bronson Avenue, to five of a possible eight years for felonious assault and 12 months out of a possible 18 months for aggravated riot. The sentences will be served consecutively.

The judge said his sentence should be a message to the community that such behavior won't be tolerated.

The senseless nature of the beating drew the attention of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre.

Mr. Burzynski was delivering mail Sept. 26 in the Brand Whitlock housing project when Belle, Kenneth Britton, 17, and three other juveniles attacked him.

They punched and kicked Mr. Burzynski so severely that doctors gave him only a 20 percent chance of surviving the trauma to his brain.

Mr. Burzynski hasn't been able to deliver mail since the attack and said yesterday that he has the energy to work only part-time for the post office.

“It isn't fair that everything was taken from me, especially all the things that I had to relearn all over again since this attack,” the postal worker said in court.

Belle apologized and said alcohol use contributed to the attack.

Britton, the other youth most responsible for Mr. Burzynski's injuries, did not have his case transferred to the adult system.

Judge James Ray sentenced him to an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility but suspended the sentence and ordered him to get substance-abuse treatment.

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