STAMFORD — A man accused of using a box cutter to slash the face of another man during a fight just outside a South Norwalk liquor store has nearly a month to decide whether he should take a plea deal that will keep him in jail for as many as 10 years and as few as five.

At a hearing at the Stamford courthouse last week, Rafael Palacios-Toro and his Norwalk criminal defense attorney Matt Brovender appeared before Judge Gary White when the offer was discussed. The prosecutor on the case, Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning, said she offered Palacios-Toro as many as 10 years to serve with the understanding that Brovender would be able to argue for as little as five years in jail when it came time for sentencing.

She mentioned that Palacios-Toro would be pleading guilty to a first-degree assault charge, which carries with it a mandatory minimum five-year jail sentence. He will have until Feb 10 to accept or reject the offer. Palacios-Toro will also have to spend five years on probation if he accepts the deal.

While on probation, if violates his conditions of release, he could be made to serve up to another five years in jail.

Brovender said his client has not made a decision yet.

“He was there with a group of people who are known to be drinking all day. My client maintains that some of these individuals have stolen from him in the past,” Brovender said. “When he confronted them on this night, there was a little scuffle, but my client insists he did not cut the complainant.”

According to Norwalk police, the assault occurred at about 7 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2019, when when were called to Cocchia’s Liquor Store on Ely Avenue on the report of a man down and bleeding.

There, two men told police that Palacios-Toro was very drunk when he walked out of the store and asked them if they knew who he was.

When they replied that they did not know who he was, he allegedly punched one of the men in the face and pulled a box cutter from his pocket and began chasing the other man, police said.

When he caught up to the second man a few feet away, he slashed the man’s face, causing a significant cut from the corner of the man’s mouth to his ear, police said.

Police found Palacios-Toro about a half hour later outside Cocchia’s and arrested him. He has been in jail since, unable to post a $250,000 court appearance bond.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com