Cops and Courts, News

Man who broke into a Third Street apartment to be sentenced

A Morgantown man was given the maximum sentence for burglary and other charges at a Thursday sentencing hearing.

Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Susan Tucker sentenced Victor Panico, 27, to one to 10 years in the penitentiary for burglary, to be served before his other sentences. He was also sentenced to a year each on three charges of battery and an additional year for a charge of petit larceny.

Tucker said she specifically ordered the sentence for burglary served first, believing the  penitentiary would have more resources to help him than a jail.

The sentence was handed down following testimony from Panico’s father and the mother of one of Panico’s victims.

Panico previously pleaded guilty to the charges, which stem from two incidents in August 2017.

On Aug. 14, Panico broke into a Third Street apartment, where he punched a woman and her friend in the face. He also threw a lawn chair at them. On Aug.  17, Panico shoved a woman to the ground and took her purse near WVU’s  Life Sciences building.

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Panico said when given the opportunity to speak to the court.

“I don’t mind the situation I’m in,” he said. “I take it one day at a time.”

The mother of a victim of the Third Street break-in, Nadine Zambori, started her testimony by asking Tucker if she could place a picture of her daughter on the stand, which was allowed.

Zambori said she wanted the maximum punishment for Panico. She said she did not believe he was equipped to be a productive member of society and noted his lack of apology when given the chance to speak.

“I would think that was protocol,” she said. “He had no words.”

Zambori spoke about the impact his crime had on her daughter, which changed her personality and made her more withdrawn. She said she didn’t know how to make her daughter feel safe anymore.

She said she couldn’t deny Panico had a good support system, but that he was a grown man and it’s not possible to be responsible for another person’s actions.

“My heart goes out to you,” she said to his family.

Joe Panico, the defendant’s father, told the court about the lengths he and his family have gone attempting  to help Victor, including sending him to Texas for 27 days for treatment. Joe said his son has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and was abusing adderall and heroin.

He also sent his son to Florida for another treatment program, which Victor left after several days. Joe told the court his son told him the program was religious-based and “not for him.”

Joe told the court his biggest worry was  his son wouldn’t get the care he needed.

Before handing down the sentence, Tucker said she noticed a pattern of behavior that showed a total disregard for the rule of law in Victor’s criminal history. She noted that his criminal activity had escalated to violence.

“I know this family has tried as hard as they possibly can,” she said. “The [person] I see not making much effort is the defendant.”