January 7

Former Scarborough firefighter sentenced to eight years in brutal attack

Eric Gwaro beat and stomped Sherri York unconscious in 2012, then hid the injured woman from neighbors.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Former Scarborough firefighter Eric Gwaro was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for a brutal attack in Portland in 2012 that left a woman permanently injured and incapable of fully caring for herself.

click image to enlarge

Eric Gwaro becomes emotional as he reads comments during his sentencing in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland on Monday. During his comments, Gwaro apologized to Sherri York’s family members, who were in the courtroom, for his 2012 attack on York, which left her permanently impaired.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Eric Gwaro listens to Justice Joyce Wheeler sentence Gwaro to eight years in prison for his attack on Sherri York in 2012 during his sentencing at Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland on Monday, Janaury 6, 2014. With Gwaro are his attorneys Daniel Lilley, left, and Tina Nadeau.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Gwaro, 29, beat and stomped on Sherri York on Cumberland Avenue in Portland’s East End in the early hours of Aug. 30, 2012, and then carried her while she was unconscious to a nearby alley to hide her after the commotion woke up neighbors.

Justice Joyce Wheeler said determining a fitting sentence in the case was difficult because she had to weigh the brutality of the attack and degree of York’s injuries against descriptions of Gwaro by friends and family as an otherwise model father, family member and caring, college-educated person who tried to hide his alcoholism.

“My sentence is based on an attempt to punish and encourage rehabilitation,” Wheeler said, addressing Gwaro at his sentencing hearing in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court. “The sentence I’m going to impose will probably seem too lenient to the York family and too harsh to your family.”

Wheeler imposed a 20-year sentence with all but eight years suspended. Gwaro was ordered to serve four years of probation following his release, serve 100 hours of community service and pay up to $5,632.29 in restitution toward expenses York’s family has incurred during her recovery.

Gwaro was convicted by a jury in July of elevated aggravated assault and aggravated assault, both felonies, and one misdemeanor bail violation. The jury found him not guilty of the most serious count of attempted murder.

Gwaro testified at the trial that he met York, a prostitute, at the Big Apple store on Washington Avenue after a night out drinking at various bars in Portland. He said he invited York into his vehicle before realizing she was a prostitute and that she stole cash from the vehicle’s center console after he rebuffed her offer of sex for money. He said he tracked down York after she fled and dragged her to Cumberland Avenue in an attempt to recover his money. Other witnesses testified at the trial that they saw Gwaro kick and stomp on her while she was on the ground.

Gwaro was arrested shortly after the attack by police who chased him down an alley.

York’s mother, Michele York, spoke at the sentencing hearing about being called to Maine Medical Center on the night of the attack and being able to identify her daughter only by her curly hair because the injuries to her face were so severe.

“She was beaten so bad I didn’t recognize my own daughter,” Michele York said.

Sherri York, 26, did not attend the trial or Monday’s hearing. Her mother, who now cares for her and her 3-year-old son, said that Sherri York no longer has full control of her bodily functions, walks with a limp, trembles and has slurred speech as a result of her injuries. She’s prone to frustrated outbursts and has attempted suicide, her mother said.

“She said she’d rather be dead than go on living like this,” Michele York said.

Gwaro also spoke at the hearing, turning at times to face York’s family in a tearful apology and to his own family – his parents, three siblings, his wife and mother-in-law.

“I am sorry for all the distress I have caused the York family and my family. I am truly appalled at the way I treated her that night,” Gwaro said. “I just pray that one day the York family can forgive me.”

Dressed in a light gray suit and tie, Gwaro read at times from written notes, his hands shaking.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Eric Gwaro looks to his attorney Daniel Lilley as Lilley addresses Justice Joyce Wheeler during Gwaro’s sentencing at Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland on Monday, Janaury 6, 2014. Gwaro was sentenced to eight years in prison for his attack on Sherri York in 2012.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

  


Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)