A man convicted of severely beating a 76-year-old Army veteran during a road rage confrontation in the parking lot of an East County drugstore was sentenced to eight years behind bars Tuesday.
Sikes assaulted Tornocello on April 30, 2014, in the parking lot of a CVS Pharmacy at 572 Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon. The attack – which stemmed from an apparent case of road rage – was captured on surveillance tape.
On the tape, Sikes can be seen walking across the parking lot and approaching Tornocello’s car. Sikes opens the driver’s side door and throws a punch at Tornocello’s face. Sikes then flees the scene.
The victim suffered major facial injuries in the beating and had to have two reconstructive surgeries after the incident, including one to repair his badly injured left eye. He was hospitalized for several days.
Police said the fight stemmed from a road rage incident in which Sikes thought Tornocello cut him off. Sikes then followed the victim into the parking lot.
Sikes recorded his confrontation with Tornocello on his cell phone. In the video, as he sits behind the wheel, Sikes can be heard calling Tornocello an “a—hole” and criticizing his driving.
Sikes remained at large for nearly three months after the incident. Police released the surveillance clip in hopes of tracking him down. He was arrested in July 2014.
During Sikes’ trial, prosecutors characterized him as a “violent bully who can’t control his anger.”
The defense argued that Tornocello kicked Sikes in the groin first and the beating was in self-defense.
However, a jury rejected that argument and convicted Sikes.
He faces nine years in prison at his sentencing.
Tornocello made a statement before the court Tuesday in which he discussed how the assault has changed his life.
“I was seriously injured both physically and psychologically. I required several surgeries to my eye. My eye will never be the same. I am physically disfigured permanently,” said Tornocello.
“Now I no longer make the assumption that anyone that disagrees with me or is discontent with my actions for any reason will act in a civilized manner. Now I feel I must be on guard 24/7,” he added.
Tornocello thanked law enforcement for catching Sikes and seeking justice.