La Plata, MD – James Ronald Lee, 28 of La Plata, told Charles County Circuit Court Judge Amy J. Bragunier Monday, Oct. 5 that he doesn’t remember anything about the violent assault Jan. 11 when he was high on PCP and attempted to gouge out the eyes of a 2-year-old girl in La Plata.
His sister, Brenda Duckett, told the court that she was with her brother when he woke up in the hospital three days after the horrific attack and heard his name on the news.
“He asked me, ‘What did I do?’ ” Duckett said. “He doesn’t remember anything that happened.”
Bragunier sentenced Lee to 15 years for the assault.
Lee faced 75 years on the three first-degree assault charges and an additional 30 years and $75,000 in fines on the three second-degree assault charges.
According to documents released by La Plata Chief of Police Carl Schinner in January, a La Plata officer on routine patrol in the area of Charles Street and Crain Highway (Route 301) observed a man assaulting a woman.
The officer noticed several citizens had stopped their cars and were holding the suspect on the ground when the officer arrived.
The officer’s investigation determined that the suspect entered the vehicle of a neighbor in the 100 block of Kalmia Court and asked her to drive him to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office because someone was trying to kill him.
He also told her he had ingested PCP.
While en route to the sheriff’s office, the suspect left the front seat of the vehicle and began to “actively assault” a 2-year-old female child in the back seat.
Witnesses reported that the man was attempting to gouge out the child’s eyes.
When the mother tried to intervene, the suspect began assaulting her as well as another citizen who stopped to render aid to the mother and child.
The child was transported to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for treatment of facial and eye injuries.
The citizen who sought to help and the mother were transported to Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata where both were treated and released.
Lee was transported to a medical facility where he was treated for a drug overdose.
“This was a horrific incident,” Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney Tiffany Campbell stated.
She said her office had contacted the child’s mother, who was also a victim in the case, to see if she wanted to make a statement in court, but she declined.
“She does not want to see this man,” Campbell stated.
She entered photos of the baby into evidence for the sentencing.
“Just because the defendant was under the influence of PCP and doesn’t recall the events of that night, that doesn’t excuse him,” she said. “Think about that poor little baby. The court is asking for a lengthy sentence.”
One of Lee’s family members responded from the gallery, “I don’t think so,” bringing a stern rebuke from the officer in court.
“This was a terrifying experience,” Campbell continued. “There was no reason for it.”
“The defendant has always known the victim and her child,” Defense Attorney Douglas Wood told the court. “They live in the same neighborhood. He was in the hospital for three days. He really doesn’t remember what occurred. He’s very sorry for what he did.”
“I can’t remember anything that happened,” Lee told the court. “I’m not that type of person.”
Lee’s sister and mother both gave emotional pleas to the court, with Lee’s mother breaking down and pleading to Bragunier, “Please don’t take my baby away.”
“Why did you use PCP?” the judge asked the defendant.
“It’s bad stuff,” Lee admitted. “I had used it before and it never affected me like this. I can’t remember anything.”
Bragunier showed Lee a photograph of the battered baby and said, “You don’t remember?”
She said that she was taking into consideration the fact that he was remorseful for the attack, but told him the court could easily impose a 25 year sentence and tell him goodbye.
“There is no excuse for you taking PCP,” she said. “If you were not on it, this would never have happened.”
She sentenced Lee to 25 years on the first-degree assault charge, with all but 15 years suspended and gave him credit for 266 days served.
Bragunier added 10 years each for both of the second-degree assault charges, suspending both of those sentences and adding five years of supervised probation.
She told him he would be on a strict drug testing regime and that he must submit to drug evaluation and that he is to have no contact with the victim.
Contact Joseph Norris at email@example.com