JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man who broke into his former high school classmate's San Marco condominium last year with handcuffs, a Taser and a knife was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison after pleading guilty to burglary and stalking charges.
Paul Kartsonis, 32, entered a guilty plea in December to charges of armed burglary, aggravated stalking and possession of burglary tools.
He will serve 25 years of probation after his prison sentence and must wear a GPS monitor as part of that probation. He was also ordered to undergo psychosexual counseling.
Kartsonis was caught May 31 breaking into the woman's San Marco condo and stealing her clothes, including underwear. Police found handcuffs, a Taser, a knife and adult toys on him, and said he was wearing some of her clothing. They said he also had a GPS tracker on her car.
During an emotional sentencing hearing on Friday, Kartsonis and his family members apologized repeatedly to his former classmate, who prosecutors said he stalked and obsessed over, saying this is the result of mental illness.
The judge said he took note of Kartsonis' mental condition but called the break-in "well-planned and sophisticated" and said Kartsonis' actions "violated the sanctity of the woman's bedroom."
That woman, in her early 30s, went to high school with Kartsonis and was his date to a dance. Since then, he said he has obsessed over her. News4Jax has chosen not to show her face or identify her for privacy reasons, but she was sitting feet away in the courtroom, in tears, as the prosecutor spoke Friday.
"Paul’s criminal actions, because that’s what they are, have devastated the life of a woman who is a contributing member of society -- a woman who has lost her sense of safety, trust, self-sufficiency and independence," said prosecutor Lara Mattina. "And, as a woman, that is the most devastating fundamental thing to lose."
"Why were there handcuffs?" questioned Mattina. "Why was there a knife?"
The woman was not home at the time of the break-in and Kartsonis said he didn’t want her to be, contending he had a sick obsession.
Kartsonis family responds
Kartsonis' parents, Holly and John Kartsonis, released a scathing statement after their son was sentenced, saying justice was not served in his case.
Their full statement follows:
THIS IS NOT JUSTICE.
We believe that our son, Paul Kartsonis, who suffers from autism and associated disorders, was a victim of Florida’s State government’s vow to be “tough on crime” today. Locking up our son and denying him the mental health care he needs is NOT what the citizens of Florida intended by being tough on crime. Cracking down on crime should not mean making examples ofnon dangerous, first offenders, crippled by mental illness who offend certain sensibilities. The State has chosen to label all abnormal behavior dangerous and to convict the mentally ill, not based on the facts of what they have done, but based on unsupported, sensationalized fears. Our son is being punished, not because he is dangerous, but because he is offensive to a small minded community of people. This is not justice.
For the last ten months, Paul has been receiving long needed medication and therapy due to FINALLY being properly diagnosed. He has also been under house arrest with a very limited range of movement. He has not once violated his house arrest requirements. He has done everything he has been asked to do. Everyone who has interacted with him has described him as compliant and remorseful. According to the psychologists who have monitored his progress, he has shown substantial improvement. Of the seven psychologists and psychiatrists who have evaluated him, not a single one found him to be a danger to the community (even the State’s psychologist).
Today, Judge Whittington and the State Prosecutor, LaraMattina, sentenced him to prison for 6 years (average for murder is 7) for breaking into an old girlfriend’s apartment and stealing some clothing, despite the Judge agreeing that Paul was mentally ill and did not intend to or harm anyone. The State knows that there is NO mental health treatment in prison. It is probable that Paul will slip back into the confused state of hopelessness that led him to attempt suicide five years ago. His psychologists have suggested that Paul’s meek nature will make him a target in prison.
THIS IS NOT JUSTICE.
-- Holly & John Kartsonis