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York City man who shot daughter, 4, appeals federal sentence

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Jorge Luis Rosa-Hernandez

A York City felon who accidentally shot his 4-year-old daughter inside a fast-food restaurant in 2018 has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

Jorge Luis Rosa-Hernandez, 34, of the first block of South Queen Street, appeared in Harrisburg's federal court on Dec. 18 to learn his punishment, which was eight years of incarceration and three years of supervised release, according to court records.

Rosa-Hernandez pleaded guilty Dec. 27, 2018, to the felony of being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm, according to court records.

His federal attorney, John Yaninek, said they have appealed the eight-year sentence to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We have an issue that I think is fairly strong," he said. "The court included uncharged misconduct from an alleged gun sale he was involved with some months before this, which really increased his sentencing (guideline) scores and drove the sentence to a much higher point  that it likely would have been otherwise."

The defendant's daughter, who is now 5 or 6, has recovered. She loves her father very much, and the court was made aware that she wanted leniency for him, Yaninek said.

Rosa-Hernandez wrote a two-page letter to presiding U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III on Nov. 20, apologizing and saying he has great regret and sorrow for hurting his child, whom he called the most important person in his life.

"(It) breaks my heart to know that I have literally and figuratively scarred my daughter," he wrote. "I was arrogant and oblivious to the eventual consequences of my actions."

Rosa-Hernandez wrote that he intends to use his time in prison to better himself and to think about the conversation he must eventually have with his daughter about accidentally shooting her.

"I am committed to being the father I was meant to be," he wrote, adding he wants his family "to be proud of me."

Rosa-Hernandez remains charged in York County Court with aggravated assault, child endangerment, illegal firearm possession and related offenses. His next pretrial conference in that case is set for Feb. 4.

The shooting: York City Police said he shot his daughter in the leg inside the McDonald's restaurant at 142 S. George St. on April 29, 2018.

Rosa-Hernandez was hitching up his pants when the gun went off, police said.

A bullet from his .45-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol ricocheted off the floor and struck his daughter, who suffered a grazing wound, according to police.

"He feels just terrible about it," Yaninek has said of his client.

The .45-caliber pistol Rosa-Hernandez had in his pants that day is legally owned by his wife, but he grabbed it after seeing some people outside McDonald's who caused him concern, according to Yaninek.

"He believes there were some individuals near his car that were pointing at his car," the attorney said. "He felt there was the potential for a problem. That's why he put the firearm in his pocket."

Police have said the wife's gun was in the glove compartment of the couple's vehicle.

After the shooting, Rosa-Hernandez rushed his daughter and wife to York Hospital, Yaninek said.

Police said Rosa-Hernandez then fled the hospital but returned about an hour later and was arrested.

Convicted felon: The reason he is barred from possessing, or even handling, firearms is because he is a convicted felon.

In 2011, Rosa-Hernandez pleaded guilty in Lancaster County Court to the felony of drug possession with intent to deliver, according to court records.

In 2017, he pleaded guilty in York County Court to an ungraded misdemeanor drug-possession charge that carries a minimum sentence of a year, records state. Federal authorities consider some Pennsylvania misdemeanors "felonies" — those that are punishable by at least a year in prison.

Surveillance video from the McDonald's captured the accidental shooting.

"You can see the whole thing happen, and it's clearly an accident," Yaninek said of the video.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.