The convicted New Square firebomber Shaul Spitzer will have a chance at being released from prison several years early after an appeals court ordered that he be resentenced in the case.
The Appellate Division ruled Wednesday that Spitzer, who was 18 when he set fire to the home of a dissident member of the Hasidic village in 2011, could have been eligible for youthful offender status when he was sentenced.
The court ordered Spitzer back to court to be resentenced and said the judge must also consider whether he should qualify for youthful offender status. The ruling did not compel the judge to grant the status, but did require the court to address the issue.
Spitzer agreed to a plea bargain that sent his to prison for seven years for the firebombing, which seriously injured a 44-year-old man and gave a rare public view of schisms within the rigidly controlled Skver Hasidic community.
The teenager, who worked as a "hose bucher" for New Square grand rebbe David Twersky, could have received a sentence of 25 years on an attempted murder charge.
The top sentence for youthful offender for first-degree assault is four years. Spitzer is now in Eastern Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Ulster County, where he is in the fourth year of his seven-year sentence. His earliest release date is 2018.
If he is granted youthful offender status, he could be released immediately.e Appellate Division ...His lawyer, Ken Gribetz, said he was pleased by the court decision but declined to comment further. The appeal was filed by his law partner, Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg.
Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Spitzer set off an incendiary device at the New Square home of Aron Rottenberg, a plumber who was inside the house with this wife and children. Rottenberg suffered third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body and spent months in the hospital recuperating.
Rottenberg had been the target of attacks within the community for months because he chose to pray in a group outside the tiny village, despite an edict from Twersky that all residents pray only within New Square.
At Spitzer's sentencing, Rottenberg said he blamed the rabbinic leadership in the community for creating an atmosphere where violence is permitted to enforce strict social and religious rules.
Spitzer apologized at his sentencing for injuring Rottenberg.