Teenager sentenced to 5 years in WWII veteran beating case

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The last defendant in the beating case of a World War II veteran learned his fate on Friday. Keith Scott, 17, will spend several years in prison for his involvement in the crime. Scott didn't physically assault veteran Josef Martin, 92, but he did admit to breaking into his home in the middle of the night and robbing him.

His attorney says there's no excuse for Scott's actions that night in October 2013, but he insists they were out of character. The victim did not show up to court for the sentencing. Prosecutors say he still to this day is traumatized by what happened to him.

Scott stood quietly as a judge sentenced him to five years in prison for his involvement in the robbery and beating of Martin. Action News is showing Scott's face because he was charged as an adult.

Scott's attorney came to his defense in court during his sentencing, saying the soft-spoken teen deserves punishment but was a child with a hard upbringing who got involved with the wrong kids at the wrong time.

"He wrote a personal letter to Mr. Martin expressing his apologies. He doesn't expect Mr. Martin to accept his apology. Frankly, he completely understands why Mr. Martin has such a horrible view of him," said defense attorney Robert Lamanuzzi.

Scott, another teen and Dezman Kenner, 18, were charged and convicted of the 2013 crime. Kenner was sentenced last week to 17 years in prison, receiving the highest penalty since he's the one who pistol-whipped and beat Martin. Scott cooperated with authorities, agreeing to testify against his accomplices.

Scott's mother, Phyllis Simpson, was emotional at her son's sentencing but doesn't condone his actions.

"I feel that it was the wrong actions to take and that he shouldn't have been with that crowd," said Simpson. "I'm just happy that it's over and that Mr. Martin did not die, and I apologize for my son's actions as well as the rest of them."

Prosecutor Tim Donovan says the 92-year-old victim will get some closure from the sentencing but still has nightmares about the crime.

"The irony in this case is that a World War II vet that fought front lines with the ultimate sacrifices of giving up the possibility of his life for our freedoms, only found himself to be woken up in the middle of the night to have this horrible thing happen to him," said Donovan.

The district attorney's office says the punishments given out to the defendants in this case were justified.

Scott will likely start his sentence at the Juvenile Justice Center, and when he turns 18 finish his time in prison.

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