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Wise County man sentenced to 7 years for assaulting senior citizen

Staff report • Oct 8, 2018 at 12:55 PM

WISE — A 33-year-old Wise County man was sentenced late Friday to serve seven years of a 19-year sentence in prison, with 12 years suspended, for a savage assault on a senior citizen in 2016.

Jermaine Christopher Johnson of Wise was convicted in July for malicious wounding, attempted second-degree murder, stabbing in the commission of a felony, and trespassing. As part of his sentencing on Friday, Johnson must also serve seven years probation following his release.

Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said Johnson attempted to gain access to a residence in Wise. Slemp said authorities believe the attempted entry through the front door was motivated by an attempted home invasion.

Hearing someone at the door, Slemp said the victim, who was 66 and in poor health at the time of the assault, attempted to escape the residence via a back door. Slemp said the victim, who Slemp does not identify citing privacy concerns, saw Johnson and asked him what he was doing. Slemp said upon being confronted, Johnson attacked the victim with a handheld garden tool.

Slemp said the victim was slammed onto the ground by Johnson and stabbed multiple times between the eyes and top and back of the head, suffering serious injuries. Slemp said a bystander witnessed the attack and rushed to assist the victim.

"The vicious attack of a senior citizen at his house is appalling," Slemp said in a prepared statement. "Evidence presented showed the victim loved gardening and spending time working outside at his home. Not only did Johnson violate that sacred space by trying to break into the victim's residence and trespassing on his property, but also when caught in the act he used a garden tool to savagely wound this senior citizen."

Slemp said "our entire community should be outraged by this conduct and, accordingly, we asked the court to sentence Johnson to the maximum penitentiary sentence available under the law."

Slemp also praised the bystander who witnessed the attack and rushed in to assist the victim.

"The evidence suggests that this was an attempted home invasion," Slemp said. "The parties did not know one another. There is no evidence that suggested they had ever met before. The victim was a random innocent bystander. It was a miracle the attack was witnessed by a Good Samaritan."

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