At his sentencing, Peter Braunstein spoke for the first time about kidnapping and assaulting a former colleague on Halloween 2005. The writer revealed that after attacking her victim, he stayed in her apartment and watched TV, because "it dawned on me that I didn't know why I was there." The Post provided a transcript of his remarks:
Asked by the judge if he wanted to speak, Peter Braunstein shrugged and replied:
I mean, apart from saying what I said to you in my letter about remorse, I just wanted to sort of explain the whole crime spree from how I can perceive it.
There was a random quality to it. So when I attacked the victim, I was in her apartment, and then after an hour, it dawned on me that I didn't know why I was there. So I just watched TV and waited until dawn and then I left.
This irrationality continued throughout my quest. It was sort of suicide-based. So I just thought I would see America and then die. You know, have the cops shoot me to death.
And I just don't [know] how people can look at a man and then say - and now I'm going back to the trial testimony - that if you can plan something, that means, you know, that you don't have a certain set of illnesses.
My plan is actually more complicated than that. You can go in and out of a psychotic break. You can feel you have nothing to live for, and severe depression. Either way, it's much more complicated. And I was just surprised when the jury debated for only three hours. So...'
Braunstein then shrugged, and sat down.
Remember: When Braunstein was captured, the police officers did not shoot him, so he stabbed himself in the neck. We can understand why he didn't testify.
The judge, Justice Thomas Farber, explained why he handed down a sentence of 18 years to life, instead of the 25 years-life maximum: “I have seen enough sentencings with victim impact statements delivered by grieving mothers to know the type of case that truly deserves a maximum sentence." However, by posing as a firefighter, Braunstein had become a nightmare in the minds of any woman who might be approached by a firefighter or police officer. Farber did acknowledge that Braunstein could die in prison, because he must serve a minimum of 18 years before being eligible for parole.
The judge also found it interesting that jurors referred to Braunstein as "Peter" in a note, saying, "These jurors realized they were convicting a human being. They were despicable acts, but he was a human being. It wasn't 'pervy Pete.' It wasn't the 'fire fiend.' It was just Peter. I find it ironic, in part because this is exactly what the defendant was and still is unable to do...see people around him as human beings."
Two jurors agreed with the sentence; Randy Quan told the Daily News, "Eighteen or 25 years, I don't think it makes a huge difference. The important thing is that he really should be off the street. He really does have some problems."