Slashing victim says sentence not long enough

Daniel MacEachern
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Says James William Rogers didn't get 'what he had coming to him'

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 3 1/2 years in prison for the assault, which happened 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 3 1/2 years is going to (do)... 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 co-operated 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 4 1/2 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 3 1/2 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 5 1/2 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 - clean-shaven with close-cropped hair, 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. Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Hell's Angels

Geographic location: Harbourside Park

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Recent comments

  • TJ
    May 24, 2013 - 22:01

    This person will be walking the streets freely again in a very short time! Justice is so unfair!! he has a criminal history of a dangerous offender. What if this had been an elderly person or someone weakened from fighting illness or cancer...they would have been left to die on the street! This young man was healthy with strength to fight for his life. Criminals like this roaming the streets to do it once again makes me sick. Lock him up longer, make him suffer through it.. He knew what his intent was when the threw the damn knife in the water!!!

  • scott
    May 24, 2013 - 17:25

    The world doesn't work on what-if's and worst case scenario's, there are great laws and terrible laws, but always innocent until guilty, ( well its what I was taught, have had some opposite experiences) the system is a game, some people are good players.

  • Jay
    May 24, 2013 - 11:51

    The criminal justice system is also about protecting the public. The judges seem to have given up on that one.

  • Duffy
    May 24, 2013 - 11:31

    Why didn't the Judge take him home and fix him supper and they could cry about how unfair it all is.................Or just maybe he should be locked up for the rest of his life to protect others. If he comes out and hurts someone else or kills someone the Judge bears some responsibility!

  • Arnie Pratt
    May 24, 2013 - 11:26

    I have to ask the knuckle-draggers here, by simply locking him away in a prison, at what point will he no longer be deemed a threat without proper treatment? Whining about wraps on knuclkes and the justice system as a joke only emphasises how simple minded you lot are. The self-righteous, vigalante intellect is the real threat here.

    • Happily Retired
      May 24, 2013 - 17:43

      So the "intellectual elite" like you get to hurl insults and call names at anyone who disagrees with you. That's really mature. By the way, this is not the only recent case which brings the judicial system into question.

  • grant
    May 24, 2013 - 10:41

    First thing, Walker must remember he is dealing with NL justice. Iam not one bit suprised. If that woman in the States who is waiting for the jury to deside whether she gets the death penelty or life in prison. Had her trial been in NL they would be deciding between house arrest or three months in Clarenville.

  • Sheila
    May 24, 2013 - 10:00

    Assault was the wrong charge, try attempted murder, unless the judge thought slashing a neck is similar to a papercut. A person with a lifetime of mental health issues that make them violent has no place on the streets. But then again the government decided years ago that those with serious mental health issues had the right to refuse meds and to live among the rest of us no matter what carnage they leave as they have Rights. It is just their victims that have no rights. Maybe next time he will succeed in killing, what would you say then Judge Marshall.

  • Paul
    May 24, 2013 - 09:34

    how long is long enough? the criminal justice system is not about revenge but rehabilitiation... the most important thing here is to get this guy some diagnosis and treatment and ensure he won't do this again...that said, I think that is where is gets complicated...medication might hold back the symptoms but what happens when he goes off his meds when no one is watching him... life is complicated.

  • Not sure
    May 24, 2013 - 09:27

    When you are dealing with a person that has mental problems, I am not sure how to deal with him. It appears he does not know what he is doing. How can you punish somebody for doing something when he doesn't know what he did. He should be treated and not released til he is fit to be released, which could be 1 year, 5 years, or maybe never. Maybe prison is not the right place for him.

  • Dee
    May 24, 2013 - 08:54

    I agree I don't think he got enough either this man has had a life time of mental issues do the judge really think 4 years is goingto give him the help he needs.We should be protected from these people.Look at the guy from the Grey Hound Bus where there was a young guy beheaded and he is out.This very well could have been the same thing here,a box cutter a very dangerous item to be carrying around in your pocket.This man should be locked up in a psychiatry hospital not jail.

  • Chantal
    May 24, 2013 - 08:51

    No Fred. The sad part is that he isn't going to get the help he needs.

  • gerry
    May 24, 2013 - 08:22

    Assault? How about attempted murder...3 and a half years for slashing someone's throat....and some wonder why we think there is no respect for the judicial system. The whole system is one bad joke....

  • Jonathan
    May 24, 2013 - 07:50

    after reading this story, I am now vigilanty.

  • Fred
    May 24, 2013 - 07:27

    sad part is he'll be out by Christmas. What a justice system we have.

    • Mary
      May 24, 2013 - 09:05

      Very frightening,what if he had grabbed a child,who couldn't have gotten away,as fast as this man did.I don't think the sentence is long enough ,either.Too bad the judge didn't listen to the prosecutor.