An ex-Marine with a history of mental illness was sentenced today to 13 to 26 years in prison for a road-rage incident in South Philadelphia that left a South Jersey man disabled with a gunshot wound of the head.
Christian Squillaciotti, 35, said nothing before being sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi after a two-hour hearing in which his background of childhood sexual molestation, physical abuse and mental illness was made public in painful detail by defense attorney Christopher J. Angelo.
"There is incapacitating mental illness and then there are people who a mentally ill and don't want to take responsibility for their actions," DeFino-Nastasi said. "That's what we have here."
The judge did give Squillaciotti a lesser sentence than the 25 to 50 years urged by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lipscomb, crediting the fact that the shooting was his first crime and his military service to the Marines from 1993 to 1995, including duty in Haiti.
Still, the judge noted that the Marines did not cause Squillaciotti's mental problems, which became noticeable in childhood.
One of Squillaciotti's victims, Thomas Timko, 43, was in court but asked Lipscomb to read a letter in which he described how the shooting "destroyed my life and my children's lives."
Timko's daughter Kaitlyn, 9, who was in the backseat of the car when her father was shot, was not in court and remains traumatized by the incident.
Outside of court Timko, the top of his head marked by a large crescent-shaped scar, haltingly answered reporters' questions as he was physically steadied by a friend and his fiancee, Dawn Roccia.
"I think it was fair, I can't do nothing about it now," Timko said.
Squillaciotti pleaded guilty in December to two counts of attempted murder and possessing an instrument of crime in the Oct. 5, 2008 incident on the Schuylkill Expressway that left Timko critically wounded.
This morning Squillaciotti mostly stared at the table in front of him. He never looked at Timko nor a dozen relatives and friends who came to support him in court. Nor did he look at a 9-minute video session between a counselor and an emotionally traumatized Kaitlyn Timko done three days after the shooting.
Squillaciotti had faced a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for the attempted murder count involving Timko and another 20 years for the count involving Kaitlin.
Police said Squillaciotti pulled along the passenger side of Timko's 2001 Toyota Highlander SUV, moments after the two vehicles got on the Schuylkill Expressway from the Walt Whitman Bridge near the Passyunk Avenue exit.
Police say Squillaciotti fired four shots at the SUV, shattering the rear passenger window, and one shot hit Timko in the head.
The shooting followed a vehicular duel between the two that began in South Jersey and ended in South Philadelphia.