CHICAGO - A man who pleaded guilty to home invasion and robbery in connection with an attack on a 94-year-old World War II veteran was sentenced Thursday.
A Cook County judge sentenced Olajuwon Claiborne, of Chicago, to 20 years in prison. He was tearful as he apologized to Josephine Regnier, now 95.
"That was the reason why I was here, he apologized and I feel good for that, but I feel sorry for him," said Regnier.
"It's a very emotional thing. I feel bad that someone has to go to jail...but at the same time it's good to know that he will not be able to injure anyone for a while," said Regnier's daughter, Joan O'Connor.
Regneir was attacked last December outside her home in the city's Garfield Ridge neighborhood.
The grandmother was left with bruises on her face and several broken ribs after she was beaten and robbed while waiting for her daughter in the gangway of her home. She was left lying on the ground as her attacker ran away with her purse.
But he was also caught on surveillance video by a nearby restaurant, Villa Rosa Pizza. Claiborne was arrested a few days later, after he was turned in by a former jailhouse buddy.
Still, Regnier was conflicted as she left the sentencing Thursday.
"He's got a long life ahead of him, why spend it in jail," she said.
In January, the Bridgeview Lion's Club honored Regnier with its Veteran of the Year award and greeted with a standing ovation. During World War II, she served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Brooklyn. Regnier processed soldiers as they came home from the war.