By Courtney Dentch
A jury deliberated for just one hour last week before convicting a Jamaica man of assaulting a 39-year-old woman in July 2001 by kicking her repeatedly in the head after she was stripped naked.
Johnny Gueits, 27, of 178-26 93rd Ave. in Jamaica, was found guilty of first-degree assault in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens Friday, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Gueits faces up to 25 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced April 30, Brown said.
“The defendant committed a vicious crime by attacking a helpless and defenseless woman and repeatedly kicking her in the head after she had been stripped of her clothing,” Brown said. “The conviction ensures that justice has been done for the victim who sustained serious physical injuries in the attack.”
According to the trial testimony, Gueits and the victim, who was not identified, left a Jamaica bar with a male friend on July 4 and went to Harvard Playground, a nearby park at 90-70 179th Place, Brown said.
Police later received a call from an eyewitness who reported that the victim was lying naked on the ground and was being beaten by two men, Brown said. When police arrived, they found the victim bloodied and unconscious, he said. The officers found Gueits sitting on a swing in the park wearing blood-covered shoes and holding a bloody T-shirt and arrested him, Brown said. The second man was not in the park and has not been identified, he said.
Gueits’ defense attorney, Judah Maltz, said he was not surprised by the verdict, based on the way the trial was going. He attributes the conviction to the DNA evidence presented by the prosecution, which identified the blood on Gueits’ shoes as the victim’s, he said. Gueits, who maintains his innocence, said the blood did come from the victim, but he said he saw the woman after she was attacked, Maltz said.
Maltz also tried to discredit the identifications made by both the victim and the woman who called the police, he said. In the case of the victim, he said it was a mixture of alcohol and the attack that clouded her judgment. On the night of the attack, the police officers asked her if Gueits was the man who attacked her and she nodded her assent, Maltz said.
“I don’t believe she was conscious enough to see or understand well enough to respond to the officer’s question,” he said.
Maltz also argued that the woman who called the police witnessed the attack from across the street, a distance of about 300 feet, he said, adding that the park was too dark for her to make a clear identification.
But the jury thought the DNA supported the tentative identifications, Maltz said.
“I think they were just overwhelmed by the DNA evidence,” he said.
Gueits will most likely get close to the maximum sentence, Maltz said. However, Maltz said he hopes the judge will take other factors into consideration, including the fact that Gueits has no prior record. Maltz also plans to appeal the conviction, he said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300 Ext. 138.