Cleared of attempted murder, sexual assault, Manchester man will spend the next 5 1/2 years in prison

Sep. 21—Chasrick Heredia — the Manchester man who has received several breaks in Manchester courtrooms — ran out of luck earlier this month when a judge sentenced him to state prison for the next 5 1/2 years.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Amy Messer issued the sentence after tearful testimony from three teenagers — walkaways from a counseling program — whom Heredia had been accused of sexually assaulting in the summer of 2019.

Also testifying against Heredia in a packed sentencing hearing was Canada Stewart, the Manchester police officer he had been accused of assaulting and trying to murder during a riot outside of a downtown Manchester bar in 2018.

All four of the women had seen a jury render verdicts favorable to Heredia on the most serious charges he faced in two different cases in 2018 and 2019.

But the juries convicted him on related charges, and Superior Court Judge Amy Messer sentenced Heredia to 8 1/2 years in state prison. Given time he has spent in jail awaiting trial, Heredia could be released in about 5 1/2 years at the earliest, said the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Shaylen Roberts.

Messer sentenced Heredia two weeks ago, following riveting testimony from all four women, including the parents of one of the girls. Heredia was accused of supplying beer to three teenage girls who walked away from Granite Pathways and then sexually assaulting them.

The oldest, who was 16 at the time, was unconscious during the sexual encounter.

“That final night of freedom was cigarettes and a couple cans of beer that made their way through my system like battery acid,” she said. The oldest of the three, she said she continues to blame herself.

“It's a slap in the face to be touched and to be so aware of the fact that every man's hands feels like his,” she said.

One of the younger girls said she has cut herself more than 100 times and had four surgeries to repair the scars since that night. She's spent months away from home and in psychiatric hospitals, her parents said.

“She was given beer by the defendant, and in exchange her youth was taken away from her,” the girl's father testified.

Roberts said Heredia has manipulated the system to avoid accountability.

In 2019, Heredia walked out of a courtroom after reaching a plea deal as the prosecutor's case against him collapsed. A judge ruled that defense attorneys should have been informed that the victim in the case — officer Stewart — was dating an officer at the time who also testified in the trial.

Heredia agreed to probation and a suspended sentence, which means a judge could impose the sentence if he got into trouble again. Messer did so this month, reminding Heredia that she advised him two years ago to turn his life around.

Once charged with the Granite Pathways crimes, Heredia destroyed a videotape of the encounters, which he was convicted of, as well as witness tampering.

Prosecutors said he made a mockery of the justice system by trying to claim mental incompetency during a trial and even writing a love letter to Messer, expecting it would disrupt the trial.

“You have some intelligence: you can read, you can be articulate,” Messer said, “but you have not used that to advance your interests or the interests of society.”

For his part, Heredia, 27, said “false ages were given to” him and his co-defendant; had he known the girls' ages, no crime would have taken place, he said.

He said he's been deprived of his reasoning abilities, inmates have jumped him at the Valley Street jail and he's been mistreated by corrections officers.

“For the last two years, I've been in a confined world that hates me,” Heredia said.

The sentencing hearing drew the girls, their family, Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg, detective Capt. Sean Leighton and members of the Manchester police juvenile unit, which investigated the Granite Pathways crimes.

In her testimony, Stewart said Heredia has a lengthy record, is selfish and dangerous.

Little time — about three months — passed between the time Heredia walked out of a courtroom in her case and he met the Granite Pathways girls.

“He can't even go six months out of jail,” Stewart said, “before committing a crime.”

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