NEW YORK (AP) – Already serving 200 years in prison for killing four people in a bloody rampage, Maksim Gelman grinned on his way into court Wednesday, swore at a man he assaulted during the crime spree, and defiantly made light of the proceeding as he was sentenced to 25 more years.
Gelman made an abrupt marriage proposal to a reality TV star and directed profanities at the subway rider he knifed in the head and arm at the end of his series of assaults and carjackings last year.
Joseph Lozito, a mixed martial arts fan who says he drew on moves he’d seen on TV to knock Gelman to the floor after being attacked, took Gelman’s insults in stride. Seeing Gelman in court for the first time since the attack a year ago, Lozito said what he saw was “still the soul of a coward.”
“I hope you rot in your cell. And you have hell to look forward to, so enjoy it,” Lozito said to Gelman.
Gelman, 24, attacked Lozito in a final burst of violence during a 28-hour crime spree that started with an argument over the use of Gelman’s mother’s car, spanned two of New York City’s five boroughs and victimized his relatives, acquaintances and total strangers.
Gelman pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in Brooklyn, where he blamed his victims and was disrespectful to the judge while being sentenced last month to 200 years behind bars. The subway stabbing was handled separately because it happened in Manhattan, where Gelman pleaded guilty last month to attempted murder.
Wednesday, Gelman seemed to relish his role as the villain.
Given his chance to speak, he said all he wanted to say was “Kim Kardashian, will you marry me?'” and then finished his brief remarks with some obscenities directed at Lozito.
Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers noted that the sentencing was a formality, given Gelman’s massive sentence in Brooklyn. But still, the judge said, it provided a look at a “wicked man.”
“We’ve been subjected today to something of this man’s evil, unrepentant nature,” Carruthers said. “Remove him.”
Born in Ukraine, Gelman became a U.S. citizen about five years before the attacks, police said. He had a record of mostly nonviolent arrests on such charges as drug possession or making graffiti, though some of his arrest records were sealed.
The bloody trail began Feb. 11, 2011, in Gelman’s family’s Brooklyn apartment, where he killed his stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov, 54, had intervened in Gelman’s argument with his mother over the car, police said.
Gelman then went to the Brooklyn home of Yelena Bulchenko, a female acquaintance whose friends have said he imagined was his girlfriend. He killed Bulchenko’s 56-year-old mother, Anna, then waited hours for the daughter to return and killed her, stabbing her 11 times.
Gelman drove away, rear-ended another car and stabbed its driver when he confronted Gelman, police said. The driver survived.
Stealing the wounded man’s car, Gelman drove off and plowed into Stephen Tanenbaum, 62, a pedestrian who died from his injuries, police said. After abandoning the car, Gelman later hailed a livery cab and attacked its driver, then approached another car, attacked a man inside and hijacked the car, police said. Both men survived.
About seven hours later, passengers on a subway in upper Manhattan alerted police after noticing that a man on the train matched photos of Gelman they had seen in newspapers. Gelman hopped off that train and got on another, where he hacked at Lozito with a large kitchen knife, yelling, “You’re going to die,” according to a court complaint.
Lozito, a Lincoln Center ticket seller who has never trained in mixed martial arts but has watched the ultimate-fighting sport since 1993, said he fought back with a move known as a single-leg takedown.
“When you attacked me and I took you down, you went down real easy,” he told Gelman in court.
“You didn’t take me down,” Gelman said in the first of several outbursts.
Lozito, 41, said outside court that he’d shaken off Gelman’s remarks as “irrelevant.”
As they grappled on the train, police were in the driver’s compartment, having heard reports that Gelman might be on board. Gelman had in fact pounded on the door to the compartment, claiming he was an officer, police said.
Police said that after Lozito was stabbed, one of the officers threw open the door and overpowered Gelman, knocking the knife from his hand.
Lozito, who has moved to New York’s Long Island from Philadelphia since the attack, sued the city and police late last month. He says they didn’t act fast enough. The city Law Department said Wednesday it was reviewing the suit and preparing a response.
After the attack, another passenger, Alfred Douglas, pressed his hands and then a paper towel or napkin to Lozito’s wounds to try to stop the bleeding before paramedics got to the train, Lozito noted Wednesday.
“To me, he’s the unsung hero” of the attack, Lozito said.
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