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Yaazziel Rivera of Amherst sentenced to state prison for beating 62-year-old Northampton woman during robbery

  • MIKE BRADLEY<br/>Yaazziel Rivera is arraigned at Northampton Superior Court on September 27th.

    MIKE BRADLEY
    Yaazziel Rivera is arraigned at Northampton Superior Court on September 27th. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MIKE BRADLEY<br/>Donna Cavanagh listens to the arraignment of Yaazziel Rivera on September 27th. Rivera is accused of breaking into Cavanagh's home and viciously beating her on August 10th.

    MIKE BRADLEY
    Donna Cavanagh listens to the arraignment of Yaazziel Rivera on September 27th. Rivera is accused of breaking into Cavanagh's home and viciously beating her on August 10th. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MIKE BRADLEY<br/>Yaazziel Rivera is arraigned at Northampton Superior Court on September 27th.
  • MIKE BRADLEY<br/>Donna Cavanagh listens to the arraignment of Yaazziel Rivera on September 27th. Rivera is accused of breaking into Cavanagh's home and viciously beating her on August 10th.

Yaazziel Q. Rivera of 149 Sunderland Road pleaded guilty before Hampshire Superior Court Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder to multiple charges stemming from a pair of robberies a few days apart in Northampton. His attorney, Alfred Chamberland of Easthampton, said his client’s actions were fueled by an addiction to opiates.

“I take no joy in sending a person your age to state prison,” Kinder said before imposing the sentence.

Rivera pleaded guilty to charges of unarmed robbery of a person over 60, assault and battery on a person over 60, threatening to commit murder, felony nighttime breaking and entering and larceny from a building.

Rivera admitted in court Monday that about 1 a.m. Aug. 10, 2011, he entered a North Street home he thought was vacant by removing an air conditioner from a first-floor window.

While inside, Rivera was surprised by homeowner Donna Cavanagh and struck her in the head five or six times. He also threatened to kill her if she got up from the floor.

That attack sent Cavanagh to the hospital, put her in fear and prompted her to purchase a security system and generator to help ensure she wouldn’t be left alone in a dark house again, according to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Michael Russo. Rivera left the house with $60 in cash and some jewelry, according to prosecutors.

Rivera was also indicted on charges from an earlier burglary that occurred between Aug. 4 and Aug. 6 on Bancroft Street, while the homeowner was away.

Rivera admitted to ransacking that home and stealing electronics from it. Rivera cut himself on the window he broke in through, and DNA from that blood connected him to both robberies, Russo said.

He will serve his sentence at the Cedar Junction Correctional Institution in Walpole and will receive credit for 585 days of time already served.

Cavangh was in court for the plea change, accompanied by staff from the victim/witness program of the district attorney’s office.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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