LOCKPORT – Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas on Thursday ordered a Wheatfield man to admit to his family that he was at fault in a stabbing before sending him to prison for six years.
Farkas was angry that friends and relatives of Joshua C. Oakes wrote her letters insisting that Oakes was just trying to protect his brother when he stabbed a North Tonawanda man five times July 15 outside Ava’s Place, a bar on Webster Street in North Tonawanda.
Oakes told a probation officer in a presentencing interview that he acted in self-defense.
Farkas said the letters she received were “ignorant of the truth.” She said a surveillance video, which she watched three times, clearly showed Oakes and his brother approaching victim Paul R. Diesing and his friends, and Oakes pulling a knife “before anyone put a hand on him.”
“Turn around and tell them the truth,” Farkas ordered.
Oakes turned, faced about two dozen supporters and said, “I started an altercation.”
“They continue to see Mr. Oakes as a victim in this. I don’t see it that way,” Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said.
Defense attorney Kevin R. Wolf said that before the stabbing, “there was some taunting.”
“Your client approached them. He put himself in that situation,” Farkas said. “What was the reason for him to walk the entire length of the property, over to where those skinny little boys were sitting?”
Diesing, 24, said that his bowels were punctured in four places by the stabbing and that he underwent four hours of exploratory surgery. He was off work for six months.
“That night was the worst night of my life,” Diesing said. “I have nightmares. I’m always looking behind me. … This sentencing is helping me to heal.”
Oakes, 25, of River Road, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree assault, also faces five years of postrelease supervision.
Wolf said Oakes, who served prison time in California after a stabbing there, is considered a parole violator in that state and may have to serve as long as 18 months in a California prison after he completes his sentence in New York.