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Defendant in fatal beating is paroled

Published February 24. 2010 05:00PM

Although the district attorney opposed it, Derrick M. Donchak, 19, of Shenandoah, was paroled by President Judge Willliam E. Baldwin after a brief hearing held Tuesday in Schuylkill County Court. Donchak was one of two youths who served time in the county prison for the fatal beating in July 2008 of an illegal Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah.

The trial brought national attention because of its racis motiff.

Although Donchak is now free his legal problems are just mounting as he and his co-defendant, Brandon J. Piekarsky, 18, of Shenandoah Heights, who was released on parole several weeks ago from the county prison, both face hate crime charges in federal court in Scranton arising from the beating of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala.

The probation hearing held in the county court revealed Donchak had not been a model prisoner and this was the reason District Attorney James P. Goodman objected to his release. Donchak denied the misconduct was his fault. Prison officials testified Donchak participated in an action they called "fishing" by accepting contraband dropped into his cell by a sheet attached to a long rope. He also received a 70 day sentence of solitary confinement for refusing to obey orders.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew J. Serina, of Coaldale, who represented the Commonwealth, argued against the immediate release claiming Donchak had multiple misconducts on his record and that he failed to demonstrate he is capable of abiding by the rules.

Both Donchak and Piekarsky were found guilty by a jury of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person but were found not guilty of a charge of ethnic intimidation. Baldwin sentenced both to serve six to 23 months in prison. Piekarsky was released after serving his minimum but Donchak served an additilonal month.

In releasing Donchak, Baldwin stated he believed he had learned his lesson but warned him failure to obey the rules while on probation could mean returning to the prison.

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