An unrepentant Bernhard Goetz insisted that "society needs to be protected from criminals" before he was taken to jail on weapons charges stemming from the 1984 shooting of four black youths who asked him for $5 on a subway.
Goetz, who was sentenced Friday to one year in prison and fined $5,000, was taken to the city correctional facility on Rikers Island to begin serving his jail sentence.He could be paroled in 51 days with no supervision, the judge said.
Goetz will be held in a protective unit at the Rikers Island Hospital, reserved for defendants in high publicity cases.
The pale and lanky electronics specialist made international headlines Dec. 22, 1984, when he shot the four teenagers who menacingly approached him on a New York City subway car.
He claimed he was defending himself when the black youths surrounded him on the train and asked for $5. He pulled out a chrome-plated pistol and shot each one.
Before he was sentenced, Goetz told the judge, "I feel this case is really (more) about the deterioration of society than it is about me."
Pointing to the prosecutor, Gregory Waples, Goetz said Waples "seems to be concerned that society needs to be protected from me and I don't believe that's the case. Society needs to be protected from criminals."
Goetz, 41, with touseled blond hair and wearing his trademark jeans and open-collar shirt, stood trembling as he listened to Acting State Supreme Court Justice Stephen Crane's sentence.
His lawyer, Barry Slotnick, told reporters there was "no rhyme or reason" to the sentence.
"Mr. Goetz was obviously concerned but he was very unhappy about the fact that he had to go to jail," said Slotnick, who plans to appeal the conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, but said Goetz did not want to appeal the sentence.
The judge, noting that his original sentence of six months in jail had been thrown out by an appeals court, said it had been designed to keep Goetz under probation supervision for five additional years.
Goetz also was fined $5,000 for illegal weapons possession.
"I do not think it would be unduly harsh to sentence Mr. Goetz to jail," the judge said, closing a four-year case that turned the reclusive Goetz into a hero for those who felt helpless against crime.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau later said his assistant, Gregory Waples, "tried this case in a fair and professional manner and Mr. Goetz was convicted by a jury of illegal gun possession. He has now been given the mandatory one-year jail sentence in accordance with the law."
The one-year sentence, said Mayor Edward Koch, "is exactly what is warranted."
Three of the youths who were shot by Goetz escaped permanent injury. A fourth, Darrell Cabey, 22, was paralyzed from the waist down, lapsed into a coma for a time and spent a year in a hospital.
A Manhattan jury in June 1987 cleared Goetz of attempted murder charges and convicted him of a single count of illegal gun possession.
The sentence enraged a black city leader, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, who stormed out of the court after the proceeding and called it a "slap on the wrist."
In October 1987, Crane sentenced Goetz to six months in jail, fined him $5,000 and ordered him to perform community service. But an appeals court declared the sentence illegal because state gun laws require at least a one-year sentence unless that is deemed "unduly harsh."