Forgiven, he heads to state prison Attacked DJ at a fundraiser in LT
BY BRETT HAMBRIGHT, Staff Writer
Bruised and battered after being beaten outside a Lancaster Township bar, James Mahler thought he was getting the help he desperately needed.
A patron of the bar, Joshua Laughman, helped Mahler to his feet after the attack outside a Hospice fundraiser at Dirty Ol' Tavern, 917 S. Prince St.
"You helped me up; I really thought I was getting help," Mahler told Laughman in court Thursday, their first meeting since the April 1, 2012, beating.
"I remember you asking me, 'Are you OK?'" Mahler continued. "Then you hit me twice -- and everything spiraled after that."
Mahler's face was virtually shattered, according to his testimony. Metal plates repaired the broken facial bones. Mahler said he'll never again have feeling in a large part of his face.
Laughman, 32, will spend 21-w to 8 years in state prison on a single count of felony aggravated assault, a judge ordered Thursday.
"It never ceases to amaze me how good people are willing to forgive bad acts," Judge Jeffery Wright said while ordering sentence.
Previously, Laughman had turned and apologized to the man he admitted to viciously beating a year ago.
"I'm not a bad person, but I made a bad decision," he said to Mahler. "I hurt someone that didn't deserve to be hurt."
"I forgive you," Mahler said later, "but I'll never forget you. I'll pray for you every day."
Mahler was disc-jockeying the charity event -- for free -- when he was attacked outside, first by 33-year-old Marcos Mendez. (Mendez was sentenced last month to 4 to 10 years in state prison.)
"(Mendez) initiated the assault," Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lechner told the judge. Laughman "piled on. He acted like he was acting out of kindness, then delivered two additional sucker-punches."
Lechner said it was one of the worst crimes he's seen in more than 10 years as a prosecutor.
"I can't think of another case where the violence involved was so random and unprovoked," Lechner said. "Mr. Mahler was working for free at a charity event. The reward for that act of kindness was to be viciously attacked."
Defense lawyer Pete Kinsley said the incident -- and all of Laughman's previous charges -- involved alcohol.
"This, to me, is a terrible example of the power of alcohol and someone who should never, ever drink," Kinsley told the judge. "It's an inexplicable crime. These parties didn't even know each other."
Mahler said it took awhile for him to get over the attack.
"For a year, it was hatred for you," he told Laughman. "I ask that this is a chance for you to make a change. I hope if we ever meet again, it's for a handshake."