A man who randomly attacked and punched six people on the San Diego Trolley over a three-month period last year — including a 71-year-old woman — was sentenced Thursday to seven years and four months in state prison.
Paul Gregory Cortez Jr., 29, pleaded guilty last month to battery on a trolley passenger and elder abuse.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber said Cortez would get on the trolley, assault and punch a person on board, then get off at the next possible stop.
A half-dozen separate attacks happened between last Oct. 5 and Dec. 17, the prosecutor said.
The 71-year-old woman who was attacked will no longer ride the trolley.
“I thought it was a nightmare,” the woman told authorities. To the defendant, the woman wrote, “You had no right to do that.”
Deputy Public Defender Joey Super — arguing for a 4-year prison term — said Cortez is now free of drugs and alcohol and is sorry for what he did.
Super said a combination of mental illness and drugs caused her client to act out.
“He is saddened by his actions,” Super told Judge Daniel Link.
Link noted that Cortez’s statements to a probation officer seemed self-serving and that it was unfortunate that the defendant’s mental illness was not addressed earlier.
For whatever reason, Cortez — who has been to prison twice before — just kept attacking people on the trolley, the judge said.
— City News Service