LIVINGSTON COUNTY — A bizarre sentencing unfolded Thursday in Livingston County Court, with the defendant at one point threatened with a taser for his outbursts.
Dennis Estruch was found guilty of reckless endangerment by a Livingston County Jury after filling his former Mount Morris bar, Fred’s Tavern, with natural gas and then falling asleep with a half-lit cigarette in his mouth. Estruch survived the incident, as the gas never ignited. He was, however, sentenced to 2-6 years in state prison by Judge Dennis Cohen.
“Your honor, beyond a reasonable doubt I have caused pain to my children, my family,” Estruck said. “If I could turn back the clock, I would turn it back and be a different man.” And then things got exciting.
“The astounding thing in this case to me is that the whole side of the street in Mount Morris didn’t get blown up and that this wasn’t national news.” said Judge Cohen. “It’s shocking to hear that you don’t take responsibility for what happened, because there’s no other reasonable conclusion that could have been drawn.”
As judge Cohen continued Estruch began to interrupt him, as if he was retrying his case during sentencing.
“I’m one hundred percent innocent,” Estruch said while interrupting the judge. “I’ll fight till my last breath, and everybody in this place knows it, too.”
Estruch then argued that the court was out to get him and made offending statements not only to the judge but others that worked in the legal system.
As Estruch began to rant he was told that if he did not calm down he would be tased.
“No, no, don’t taze me bro, don’t taze me bro.” Estruch said.
Court deputies then spoke with Estruch in an effort to calm him down, as Judge Cohen proceeded with the sentencing.
“I’m going to sentence you to 2-6 years in state prison with the Department of Correctional Services. I certainly hope that during that time period you find a way to acknowledge responsibility here because if you don’t there’s a possibility that you will serve most or all of that six years if you maintain you didn’t have any responsibility in this case.” Cohen said.