If Puiassance Andersen serves his entire sentence, he won’t be out of prison until the year 2009.
Andersen, who was convicted of three counts of aiding and abetting aggravated robbery and one count of aiding and abetting burglary, was sentenced to 12 years and 10 months in prison June 6.
He was acquitted of six counts of aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct during the same trial.
Andersen, 21, was one of four men accused of participating in an October robbery and rape just outside the University campus and was the first to face trial.
Victor Porter, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of burglary in exchange for his testimony against the other men. He was recently released for good behavior from the Hennepin County Workhouse after serving less than eight months. Andersen’s brother, Giezwa Andersen, and cousin, Antonio Burton, will face trial in late July.
Puiassance Andersen, who has been in custody since being arrested after a high speed chase in Eau Claire, Wis., last October, addressed the court before his sentence was announced. He took the opportunity to maintain his innocence and tell the courtroom audience it was Burton, not he, who was the villain.
“He’s talking in graphic nature about how he assaulted these women,” Andersen said. “There are so many words I could say, but they would be unsuitable for the people in the court. But they are along the lines of his being sick and stupid and idiotic and foul.”
Andersen also talked of how he overcame a difficult childhood where he was often hit by his father. He said his girlfriend and daughter were the most important people in his life, and that he loved women and would never hurt them. Andersen and defense attorney Paul Schneck asked that he be given a sentence similar to Porter.
However, prosecuting attorney Steve Redding painted a different picture of Andersen, asking Hennepin County Judge Mary Steenson to punish him in such a way that the crime wouldn’t just become another statistic.
“He has no conscience, he has no compassion — he has none of those things we hope other members of society we walk around with have,” Redding said. “These crimes have a terrorizing effect on our society as a whole. I am asking you to incarcerate Mr. Andersen for a significant portion of the rest of his adult life.”
Hennepin County Judge Mary Steenson agreed. She spoke directly toward Andersen as she announced his sentence.
“This was a horrible robbery,” she said. “This was by no means a standard aggravated robbery, if there is such a thing.”
Citing Andersen’s record, which is spotted with offenses from when he was a juvenile, Steenson said he has had plenty of chances. She also cited the multiple victims of this crime as she said she wouldn’t adjust the sentence downward. Steenson added that she could probably justify adjusting the sentence upward.
“You didn’t have the courage to help these women, and you are a lesser man for that,” she said. Addressing Andersen, Steenson added, “(His record) shows that you’ve been given many breaks during the course of your life.”
Andersen will be required to serve at least two-thirds of his sentence in confinement. After that time is complete, if there have been no further problems he could spend the last one-third of his sentence on supervised release.
In addition to prison time, Andersen will pay a fine of $3,000, which will be taken from his prison earnings.
The sentencing, which had been postponed several times because of another case Redding was trying, might never have taken place if Schneck had his way. Before the hearing began, he asked that the verdict be thrown out.
During pre-sentencing motions, Schneck cited an April 14 Minnesota Daily article in which Jury Foreman Gary Wenderoth made statements about the jury’s decision-making process. Schneck said after examining the article, he felt the jury had arrived at a compromise verdict, agreeing to convict on the robbery and burglary charges and acquit on the sexual misconduct.
Steenson quickly denied the motion and Andersen’s sentencing proceeded.
In another University related case:
ù College of Liberal Arts senior Juan Pablo Adame pleaded not guilty June 6 to a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Hennepin County District Court.
According to the Hennepin County court complaint, Adame knocked on the door of a female Centennial Hall resident’s room. When he was let in, he allegedly raped her twice.
The complaint alleges that Adame then spent the evening with another female resident of the building, telling her she was his alibi.
However, Adame’s attorney, Daniel Guerrero, from Meshbesher and Spence Ltd., said he believes an investigation and pending trial will clear his client.
“We intend to conduct a thorough investigation, and I feel confident that at the end of it, Mr. Adame should come out of this OK,” he said in a previously published Daily article.