Published on May 23, 2013
Brock Walker, who had his throat slashed by James William Rogers last August in downtown St. John's, speaks to media today following the sentencing of Rogers. Walker says Rogers' sentence should have been longer. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
In a little plastic bag, Brock Walker keeps the 19 surgical staples used to hold his skin together after James Williams Rogers sliced him from left ear to Adam’s apple in August.
Rogers, in provincial court Thursday, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for the assault — on a sunny summer afternoon in Harbourside Park, in front of horrified onlookers — about one year for every five staples.
Walker, speaking to reporters after the sentencing, said that wasn’t enough.
“Three and a half years is not a long time for going up and trying to kill a stranger,” he said outside court on the third floor of Atlantic Place. In her sentencing, Judge Lori Marshall said Rogers’ mental health problems made rehabilitation a bigger priority in sentencing than punishing, but acknowledged — as Walker pointed out — that Rogers hasn’t had a specific psychiatric diagnosis. “He’s been seeing psychiatrists for years and years and no one can understand what’s wrong with him, so I don’t understand what three and half years is going to… I think he should be kept away until they can figure out how to make him better. I hope he gets better, but I don’t think he should be wandering the streets,” said Walker.
On Aug. 10, Rogers, 36, walked up to Walker, who was sitting and smoking a cigarette with a friend in Harbourside Park, and — without warning — cut his throat with a box cutter, in front of several people, many of them tourists from a visiting cruise ship. Walker, bleeding profusely, and his friend chased Rogers, but had to stop so Rogers could be taken to the hospital. Rogers was arrested on Harbour Drive after tossing the knife into the water, and the weapon was never recovered.
Walker said he’s glad Rogers cooperated with police and pleaded guilty — mitigating factors in Marshall’s ruling — but added that punishment should have been as much a factor in sentencing as rehabilitation. “I just don’t think he got, really, what he had coming to him,” said Walker, who said he would have been happy with four and a half to five years for the assault.
Rogers was also sentenced to six months, to be served consecutively, for a robbery of Moo Moo’s convenience store in April 2012, as well as shorter sentences for five other charges, including possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose and two counts each of breaching probations and breaching an undertaking. In all, Rogers received about four years and four months for his crimes. Factoring in time served in custody since the assault, Rogers has a little more than three and a half years left to serve.
In her sentencing, Marshall called the crimes “bizarre,” noting Rogers told the Moo Moo’s clerk he was dying of radiation poisoning from his microwave, and told the police who arrested him outside Moo Moo’s that his microwave was poisoning him because Hell’s Angels tampered with the electrical system in his apartment building.
“Your conduct is clearly escalating, and it must be stopped,” said Marshall, who rejected the lengthier sentences proposed by Crown prosecutor Kathleen O’Reilly, which would have seen a total jail sentence of between five and a half to seven years. Marshall cited court cases with similarly lengthy sentences in which the assaults were much more vicious and inflicted much more damage to reject the longer sentence as inappropriate in this case.
It’s the one sour note in his dealings with the justice system since he was attacked, said Walker, who, in a victim impact statement in March told the court that — after losing his voice for six weeks and his ability to smile for two months — he has suffered no lasting effects from the assault. “The outpouring of love and support from everybody in the community, even the people I didn’t know, has only reaffirmed my faith in the goodness of people,” Walker told the court at the time.
Walker said he stands by what he said then — but he does think the sentence should have been longer. “I’m satisfied with everything that happened up to today, that happened since the incident — the paramedics, the public, the public health nurse that had to take the staples out, the doctors, the nurses, the victim impact people downstairs. Everyone has been really great up to this point,” he said.
Rogers — dressed in khakis and a grey, long-sleeved shirt and wearing a small wooden crucifix around his neck — said nothing as he was handcuffed and led from the courtroom.
email@example.com, Twitter: @TelegramDaniel
A man who slashed another man’s throat with a box cutter — in front of tourists in downtown St. John’s last August — was sentenced to four years and four months in prison today in provincial court.
James William Rogers, 35, has been in custody since the incident and has about three and half years left to serve.
The horrifying attack took place at Harbourside Park in downtown St. John's Aug. 10. The victim, Brock Walker, was sitting with a friend smoking a cigarette on a sunny summer day when, out of nowhere, Rogers walked up to him and cut his throat - from his ear to his Adam's apple.
Bleeding profusely, Walker was rushed to hospital, where surgery and 25 staples were needed to treat the huge gash.
The incident happened at 3 p.m., when the park was filled with tourists from a visiting cruise ship, many of whom saw what happened and gave statements to police.
Rogers pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, breaching probation and two count of breaching an undertaking.
He also pleaded guilty to robbery and breaching probation from an incident that happened April 29, 2012. At around 7:55 p.m. that day, Rogers walked into Moo Moo's ice cream shop and told the clerk he was dying from radiation poison from his microwave. He then demanded the clerk give him a package of cigarettes, "or I'll knock you out."
Rogers reached in and grabbed two packages of cigarettes and a Pepsi and then called police himself, and waited outside on a picnic table for them to arrive.
More coverage in Friday’s full edition of The Telegram.