Gregory Drobish may not win any “grandson of the year” contests. But in the eyes of the law, Drobish’s role in the beating and robbery of his 94-year-old grandmother last March 3 paled in comparison to what his drug buddy, Christopher Brunkel, did to the poor woman.
On Friday, one Common Pleas Court judge sentenced Drobish to serve 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison, while another judge sentenced Brunkel to 13 to 26 years in the pen.
Both defendants apologized in court for planning and carrying out the brutal home-invasion style attack on the 2800 block of Unruh Avenue in Mayfair, while their defense attorneys chalked up their clients’ drug addictions as mitigating factors in the case.
The crime occurred at about 10 a.m. when Drobish, 28, drove Brunkel, 31, to the victim’s home believing that she had cash there. According to Assistant District Attorney Melissa Francis, the lead prosecutor in the case, Drobish’s grandmother had been generous with him over the years, providing him with food, shelter and $30,000 so he could pay owed child support.
Drobish stayed in the car as Brunkel knocked on the elderly woman’s door. When she opened it a crack, Brunkel pushed his way inside. He demanded cash and jewelry, pushed the woman onto a couch, slapped her face, punched her eye, bound her mouth and wrists with duct tape and threatened her with a syringe. Eventually, Brunkel grabbed the woman’s purse and some costume jewelry and fled to the waiting getaway car.
During the beating, the woman managed to trigger a medical alert device, which activated telephone connections with emergency responders and a granddaughter in Ohio. She suffered cuts, bruises and swelling and was treated at an area hospital.
The victim told police that she suspected her grandson may have been involved in the beating. When officers went to Drobish’s home on the 3200 block of Tyson Ave., they spotted him and Brunkel outside and, with help of an eyewitness, linked them to the robbery. Police searched the house and found items belonging to the grandmother.
Brunkel ultimately pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and related offenses, while Drobish pleaded to robbery, burglary and related offenses. Judge Denis P. Cohen sentenced Brunkel, while Judge Donna Woelpper sentenced Drobish.
Brunkel faces a violation of probation hearing, also before Cohen, in connection with an unrelated assault conviction last year. Drobish had no prior criminal record in Philadelphia. ••