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ALBANY - The courageous teen nearly abducted near her school in May took satisfaction that her assailant was no longer smiling when he was sentenced to 25 years in prison yesterday.
But Stephanie Quackenbush, 15, did not deliver an emotional victim impact statement before the sentencing of Darius Ashley in Albany County Court, as she had planned.
At the last minute, she had her lawyer do it, saying she was intimidated by the stares of three of Ashley's supporters.
"She's still a brave little girl," lawyer John Aretakis told reporters following the sentences.
A still-shaken Quackenbush broke down privately while talking to The Post just after the court appearance, saying she's still glad she appeared in court and had her statement read publicly.
"It was a little scary," she said of what she deemed the "evil looks" of Ashley's supporters.
"I'm glad it's over so I don't have to keep going through all this," she added. "It makes me feel a lot safer."
Ashley was sentenced in connection with his attack on Quackenbush, as well as for the rape of two other women who did not attend the proceeding yesterday.
While Ashley chose not to make a statement to Judge Thomas Breslin, neither did he sport the eerie smile he flashed when he tried to back out of his plea several weeks ago.
"He was not laughing this time," said Stephanie's mom, Rhonda Quackenbush. "I'm glad he's gone. I'm so proud of her. She's my hero."
With Ashley now sentenced, the family says it plans to focus on Christmas. Stephanie wants a laptop computer.
In an earlier court appearance, Ashley had tried to withdraw his plea, saying, "I don't think it's right to cop to things I didn't do."
He denied trying to abduct Quackenbush, as well as raping the other two women.
Quackenbush was walking to her Albany school on June 8 when Ashley walked up from behind, threw a towel on her head, put her in a headlock and jabbed at her side with a knife.
"Don't move, don't talk," she was told.
The quick-thinking teen screamed, breaking free as he tried to force her into an alley near her school. A witness chased Ashley off. The girl suffered a cut on her hand that required four stitches.
Police said DNA evidence from hair follicles on the towel thrown on Quackenbush's head linked him to the crime.
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