Long before ex-Marine Christian Squillaciotti pulled his truck alongside an SUV on the Schuylkill Expressway and shot the driver in the head in October 2008, he was a broken and addicted man, testimony at his sentencing hearing revealed yesterday.
Squillaciotti, 35, was sexually molested as a boy by an uncle and by a "Big Brother" mentor and was abused by an alcoholic stepfather, according to testimony. He was discharged from the Marines for mental illness and suffered pain and addiction to a grab-bag of drugs prescribed after a tractor-trailer hit his truck in 2007.
Despite those experiences, Squillaciotti had no excuse for firing on Thomas Timko, 43, and putting the victim's then-8-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, in danger, said Common Pleas Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi.
She sentenced him to 13 to 26 years in prison followed by 35 years of reporting probation and ordered him to pay $42,000 to Timko for medical bills and $10,600 to a victim's compensation fund.
DeFino-Nastasi noted that he had no criminal history, was supported by family and friends in court and showed remorse by pleading guilty to two counts of attempted murder and a gun charge in December, but the judge said the crime required a harsh sentence.
"It's just that the damage is done," she said. "He is a serious and grave danger to the community."
The judge said Squillaciotti was responsible for getting help for his schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, conditions he was aware of since childhood.
His mother, Kathleen Custer, told the court about his childhood sexual abuse and learning disabilities.
The shooting, which authorities said was an example of "road rage," followed a five-mile spat between the defendant and victim that began in South Jersey, crossed the Walt Whitman Bridge and ended when Squillaciotti fired four times at Timko's vehicle on the Schuylkill Expressway.
Of the four bullets fired, two hit Timko's SUV and a third blasted through a window, striking Timko in the head. He was able to pull over to the shoulder of the road, and Kaitlyn, who was not injured, flagged down a passing motorist for help.
Timko appeared in court with his head shaved, revealing deep scars where surgeons removed parts of his skull.
In a statement read for him by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lipscomb, Timko said he lacks health insurance and has lost his home due to his mounting medical bills. He said Squillaciotti had robbed him of ever being able to work again and of being the outgoing people person he was before the shooting.
"I feel if Christian Squillaciotti is not punished to the fullest extent of the law, he will do this again," Timko said. "But next time he will kill somebody."