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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Appeals court rules 85 years in prison not excessive for man who shot at Egg Harbor Township cops

    An appellate panel upheld Wednesday the 85-year sentence of a Egg Harbor Township man convicted of the attempted murder of three township police officers.

    Christopher Blank, now 32, was wanted on outstanding warrants when the car he was a passenger in was pulled over July 13, 2006.

    During trial, both sides agreed that Blank fled as Officers Christopher Leary and Clear Costantino tried to arrest him, but Blank said he was scared because the officers had attacked him. Later, as they tried to apprehend him, there was a struggle, and Blank got Costantino’s gun.

    Costantino was shot three times, which required surgery. Leary was shot in the chest, but was saved by his bulletproof vest.

    Blank fled and then had a short shoot-out with Officer William Loder. A bullet shot by Blank missed Loder; Blank suffered a wound to the arm and then fled into the woods. He was apprehended hours later.

    Blank testified at his trial saying he had been handcuffed to a chainlink fence and was being beaten by Leary and Costantino when the female officer’s gun fell to the ground. He said he picked it up and just shot, then shot himself off the fence.

    A jury did not accept Blank’s claims of self-defense, and convicted him on 12 counts, including three counts of attempted murder on each of the officers. Superior Court Judge Michael Donio, who oversaw the case, then found Blank guilty of a 13th count of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

    Donio sentenced Blank to 85 years in prison in 2008, which included consecutive sentences for each of the officers.

    Blank highlighted several problems with his trial on appeal, including that the jury should have been able to find him guilty of a lesser charge and that his sentence was excessive. The appellate judges disagreed, upholding the conviction and Donio’s sentence.

    Blank is currently in New Jersey State Prison, where he must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence. He is not eligible for parole until Oct. 10, 2078, two months after his 100th birthday.

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