PARIS – An Oxford resident who pleaded guilty to brutally beating a man was sentenced to four years in state prison Thursday in Oxford County Superior Court.
Justin Rolfe, 22, of 19 Edgerly Lane was charged with aggravated assault and violating probation two days after the Sept. 9, 2006, attack in Otisfield. He pleaded guilty last Nov. 21.
The charges resulted from an incident at a gathering where Rolfe and two friends, Peter Berube III, 24, 69 Beal St., Norway, and Tony Kimball, 22, 34 High St., Paris, ganged up on the 28-year-old man, according to police.
Berube and Kimball were also charged with aggravated assault and are awaiting trial.
The victim said he didn’t know the three, and people involved said the incident was unprovoked.
The man suffered many injuries, including a collapsed eardrum, broken nose, torn nasal septum, lip injuries that required stitches and temporary loss of hearing.
When he testified Thursday at Rolfe’s sentencing, he said he had recovered but the beating cost him $2,394 in medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.
Prosecutors and probation officer Wayne Sturdivant spoke about Rolfe’s extensive criminal history. He has at least four convictions as a juvenile and an adult, including two for assault in 2003. He was also charged in 2005 with burglary and assault.
“He’s an extremely dangerous person,” Sturdivant said after the hearing.
Rolfe’s sister, Jessica Rolfe, and his attorney, John Jenness, painted Rolfe as someone who had a rough childhood and succumbed to substance abuse.
“Alcoholism is a disease, and my brother needs help,” Jessica said through tears. “Whenever he writes me letters, he tells me not to do drugs, and not to drink.”
When he’s sober, he’s a hard worker and a valuable member to society, Jenness told the judge, but when he’s intoxicated, he gets in trouble.
“I recognize this was a violent crime without justification,” Jenness acknowledged.
According to a police affidavit, earlier on the night of Sept. 9, Kimball’s girlfriend said he yelled at the man for looking at her. Later that evening, the man was talking with a group of people when Rolfe got his attention, and sucker-punched him when he turned around, the affidavit states.
The girlfriend told police, according to the report, Rolfe repeatedly punched the man. “The fight was very short, but as Rolfe was punching (the man), Kimball and Berube were punching him in the head and body as well…”
She added that the man “did not return any punches and was completely helpless through the whole ordeal, however this did not stop the three men from continually hitting him.”
“This is a completely out-of-control defendant,” Justice Robert E. Crowley said. However, he acknowledged that Rolfe took responsibility for his actions that day.
“There was a hint of sincerity to it,” he said.
He ordered Rolfe to serve four years of a 10-year sentence and four years probation and pay restitution while on probation.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph O’Connor had argued for a five-year sentence with no probation, citing his previous probation violations
“Mr. Rolfe has gotten an awful lot of breaks,” he said, citing his record and noting that he has never served any state prison time, just county jail time. “As a matter of public protection he needs to be segregated from hurting someone.”
After the sentencing, Jenness said the time given was more than what he had hoped for. He argued for a six-year sentence with all but two and a half suspended.
Rolfe, who stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall, sat teary-eyed as his victim and victim’s mother testified.
The victim said he hoped Rolfe would receive counseling and/or therapy during in prison.
“I just hope he learns from the punishment he got today,” he said after the hearing.
His mother cited the grief the injuries caused the family.
“He’s always been a peaceful person, but he likes to go out and have a good time,” his mother said.
“The defendant is a danger to our community. If my son were a smaller individual, he may not be here today,” she said.
When Rolfe got up to speak, he was crying as he apologized to the man’s family as well as his own.
“I don’t even know the last time I cried,” Rolfe told them. “I need help… this isn’t the life I wanted.”