WORCESTER, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - We continue to dig deeper into the background of Joseph Gulluni, Jr., who appeared in Worcester District Court today.
Authorities accuse the cousin of the Hampden County D.A. of setting a house on fire in Palmer.
We have also learned he's served time in state prison for seven years, according to his lawyer.
We've uncovered that Gulluni, Jr. has also been found guilty of operating under the influence and assault and battery on an officer in recent years.
Now, a family member of one of his victims in an attack that took place in 1994 is speaking out, saying she feels it's important the public know how he damaged their family beyond measure.
Wanting to only be identified as Michelle, she was just a young girl when, she says, her dad was approached by Joseph Gulluni, Jr. and another man on Main Street in Indian Orchard.
The pair proceeded to assault her dad with a baseball bat, the daughter saying he used a racial slur when he did so.
"He was in an out of consciousness and we were trying to talk to him to keep him awake. There was blood everywhere. Like I said, my mom was telling us to get towels to try and put the towels on his head to stop the bleeding," said Michelle.
Michelle tells Western Mass News she thought her dad was going to die and his life was affected for years to come.
"He wasn't able to work. His medical complications, his relationship with my mother changed. I mean, even his ability to support himself now is substantially different than what it was then," stated Michelle.
She says that, when she heard that now the same man who assaulted her father is accused of setting a house on fire in Palmer, the hair on the back of her neck stood up.
She immediately became concerned for the alleged victims of that fire and how this may change their lives.
"It was such a substantial loss, like my father had such a loss in functioning, his ability to support his family, the way our family was. After that incident was totally different," explained Michelle.
But in court on Wednesday, Gulluni's attorney, Daniel Kelly, says his prior history shouldn't be used against him.
"You're not dealing with that same person. You're dealing with someone who is seated before you today who is a father, who is a business owner, who is in his sixties. A much different person than his record. I think his record can be read differently. I think his record should be read as redemption story. This is someone who did a lengthy state prison sentence in his twenties, got out and made himself with three kids, a house, several businesses, very successful. His record should not be used as a detriment. It should be used a beacon of light on behalf of the person Mr. Gulluni is," says Kelly.
Michelle says, however, that, while she hopes that may be the case, it doesn't take away from the fact that her dad has a fractured skull, a broken ear drum, and a traumatic brain injury among other things.
"I would be happy to believe that, but, unfortunately, the reality of the situation as it stands is, even if there has been some change, we're still in this situation with the same individual who's accused of a heinous crime. It's just as heinous as what my father went through," added Michelle.
Michelle's dad is still alive and feeling the effects of that attack, but she says she wanted to share his story, because they feel it's been one of survival along with his kids.
In terms of what's next for Gulluni, a judge ruled today to have him held without bail.
He is scheduled to appear in Worcester District Court again on September 13.