Monday, November 30, 2015

Camden man sentenced for brutal Old City beating


A Camden man was sentenced to 57 months in prison Thursday for randomly beating a 35-year-old software consultant near Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the early hours of June 16, 2012.

Prosecutors said Baldwin Centeno, 26, was standing near Fourth and Chestnut streets with several acquaintances when a man whose car was missing approached and asked if anyone had seen the vehicle. In response, Centeno brutally beat the man.

A park ranger found the victim shortly before 1 a.m., incoherent and bleeding from the head. He was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures that required a metal plate be implanted in his face.

Prosecutors said the man also had to undergo months of rehabilitation, including physical and speech therapy.

Though a presentence report called for Centeno to serve between 37 and 46 months in jail, prosecutors argued for a stiffer penalty due to the “random and savage” nature of the crime.

“Baldwin Centeno must be removed from society for a meaningful period of time,” assistant U.S. attorney Denise Wolf wrote in a sentencing memorandum calling the defendant “a heartless, violent criminal” whose “conduct was unusually brutal.”

“It differs from other violent crimes in its randomness of the victim, as well as its savagery,” Wolf wrote. “The victim could have been anyone. This was not a battle between gang members. This was not an attack between drug dealers over turf.”

The defense contended the government’s main eyewitness was unable to say whether he saw Centeno actually hit the victim. Defense lawyers further noted Centeno’s parents were largely absent and he was attempting to support several young children of his own.

Centeno was initially also accused of an attack 10 days later in the same area during which a couple was beaten and robbed as they walked from a restaurant back to their car.

A jury last June acquitted Centeno of the second attack but convicted him of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault by striking, beating or wounding in connection with the first incident.

In addition to the prison sentence, Centeno was also handed down three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution to the victim for lost wages, living and travel expenses, along with a $8,000 fine and a $200 special assessment.

Baldwin Centeno’s uncle, 47-year-old Santos Centeno, was convicted of charges in connection with both attacks. He will be sentenced May 5.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.
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