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Man who attacked woman in a car to serve 5-7 years; 54-year-old victim screamed, struggled.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - Sharon Sodano wasn't about to part with her money or her jewelry. Not without a fight.

Shortly before 8:30 on the morning of Aug. 2, 2006, the 54-year-old woman was sitting in her car in the parking lot of the Honey Farms at 443 Park Ave., scratching a lottery ticket. A man brandishing a knife approached the vehicle and demanded her money.

Ms. Sodano screamed and struggled as the robber reached into the car and tried to snatch the gold necklace she was wearing, according to police accounts. Her attacker punched Ms. Sodano several times in the face, but she fought back, scratching the man's face, Assistant District Attorney Eduardo O.Velazquez said. The assailant grabbed a cross and charm from the necklace, which fell to the floor of the car during the struggle.

An eyewitness came to Ms. Sodano's aid and the robber, later identified as 32-year-old Marco Rodriguez, fled on foot.

Mr. Rodriguez, whose address is listed in court records as 701 Main St., was sentenced to 5 to 7 years in state prison after pleading guilty yesterday in Worcester Superior Court to charges stemming from the robbery of Ms. Sodano and unrelated drug charges.

Mr. Velazquez told Judge Robert C. Cosgrove that a witness saw Mr. Rodriguez run into an apartment building at 4 West Oberlin St. after the robbery. Mr. Rodriguez was arrested about an hour later, when he emerged from the building and got into a waiting car, according to the prosecutor. Police saw fresh scratch marks on the suspect's face and a bag containing the cross and charm from Ms. Sodano's necklace was recovered from the car, Mr. Velazquez said.

Also found in the vehicle, near where Mr. Rodriguez was sitting, was a hypodermic needle and syringe, the prosecutor told the court.

Mr. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, unlawful possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. The drug charge, which was not related to the robbery, was lodged on July 22, when Mr. Rodriguez was arrested on Chandler Street after being found in possession of 25 packets of heroin, Mr. Velazquez said.

Judge Cosgrove imposed the state prison sentence recommended by Mr. Velazquez and Mr. Rodriguez's lawyer, Julie Bowden, and also placed Mr. Rodriguez on probation for 2 years, to begin upon his release from custody. As a condition of probation, Mr. Rodriguez was ordered to undergo a drug evaluation and any related treatment recommended by the Probation Department.

Ms. Sodano was not in court yesterday, but submitted a written impact statement the judge read to himself.

Judge Cosgrove said it was apparent that Ms. Sodano was "quite distressed" as a result of the robbery, to the point where she "starts to shake" whenever someone comes near the driver's side of her car. As an added condition of probation, Judge Cosgrove ordered Mr. Rodriguez to stay away from Ms. Sodano once he gets out of prison.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 19, 2007
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