Full story: Roach sentenced to 58 years

Full story: Roach sentenced to 58 years

“Most dangerous man in Fluvanna County” will likely serve life in prison

By Heather Michon, correspondent

More than a year after Joe Kain Roach, Jr., began firing a rifle into her parents’ Scottsville home, Sarah Townsend Williams continues to live with the trauma of that spring evening.

On the witness stand in Fluvanna County Circuit Court on Thursday (Nov. 1), she said the whole family is still coping with stress and anxiety stemming from the events of that night.

Williams was struck by a bullet fragment near her eye as she tried to usher her elderly parents to safety while Roach repeatedly fired at the Townsend home on the night of April 30, 2017.

In the aftermath of the shooting, she was diagnosed with PTSD. “I take [pills] in the morning and [pills] at night, just so I can get through the day and sleep at night,” she told the court.

Later, she sobbed in evident relief as Judge Richard E. Moore handed Roach, who was convicted of nine felony counts in July, a total sentence of 102 years with an active sentence of 58 years.

During the two-hour sentencing hearing, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip introduced evidence showing Roach had been convicted of a similar shooting in the same neighborhood around 1994, firing a shot though an adjacent home and killing a horse in a nearby field.

He also produced a witness who said Roach had shot at another neighbor’s home multiple times in 1998 or 1999.

To show the court Roach was still prone to violent outbursts, prosecutors played two phone calls between Roach and his wife, Tracy, captured in a recording by Central Virginia Regional Jail on Oct. 5.

In the recordings, Roach threatened both his wife and daughter with harm in a graphic, expletive-filled rant after learning his daughter had been hospitalized.

“I’m not speaking in hyperbole,” Haislip said during his argument. “This is the most dangerous man in Fluvanna County.”

Roach took the stand during defense arguments.

Under questioning by his attorney, James Reid, he argued his language during the phone calls was driven by the helplessness of being in jail while his child was in the hospital.

“I’m not that kind of person,” he said. “My wife knows I would never hurt her.”

Other than one charge for domestic violence early in their marriage, he denied he was ever violent toward Tracy.

The prosecution stated the belief that his animosity toward the Townsends and other families on Hardware Hills Circle in Scottsville was rooted in their protection of Tracy during his bouts of abusive behavior.

During his 17 months in jail, Roach told the court he had read four versions of the Bible and the Qur’an.

He said he was particularly impressed with the Jehovah’s Witness version of the Bible. “I used to blame God for my problems when I should have been blaming Satan,” he said.

Roach admitted he had anger issues going back to his youth and that he had suffered frequent beatings from his father.

He offered a brief apology to the Townsends, to Williams, and to Kimberly Clements, who had also come under fire that night.

But at another point in his testimony, he described the events of that night as “something that I had no control over.”

Under questioning by Haislip, Roach insisted Tracy had never sought refuge with neighbors and that he didn’t own any guns.

The rifles found at the Roach home after his arrest belonged to his daughters, he said.

Asked about the Townsend shooting he responded, “I’m not really sure. I blacked out.”

Despite testimony that he had drawn his rifle on Fluvanna County Lt. Sean Peterson and Sgt. Stephen Proffitt as they approached his home that night, he said, “I didn’t know police were there,” thanks to “soundproof” windows and thick blinds.

In his closing argument, Reid argued that his client was “very flawed and had some anger issues, but that doesn’t make him a monster.”

As during Roach’s trial in July, he argued that it wasn’t clear that Roach intended to shoot Michael Townsend and that Williams’ injuries were fairly minor: two important elements in the more serious charges of aggravated malicious wounding and attempted malicious wounding.

Haislip countered that Roach had acted deliberately that night: “It wasn’t him saying crazy things. It was a direct threat: ‘I’m going to kill you.’”

Moore told the attorneys that he was excluding the testimony of the 1999 shooting and the October phone calls in his deliberation. He said he would sentence Roach on each individual count “based on the facts of this case.”

For the aggravated malicious wounding of Williams, the sentence was 40 years with 20 suspended, and for the attempted malicious wounding of Michael Townsend, he was given 20 years with 10 suspended.

Eight other counts, ranging from assault and battery of law enforcement to shooting into an occupied dwelling, brought sentences ranging from 12 months to 10 years.

In total, he was ordered to serve an active prison sentence of 58 years, with another 44 years suspended.

Moore said it was likely Roach would spend the rest of his life in prison. However, because there was a possibility of a geriatric or other type of release, he added a requirement of 10 years’ supervised probation, including three years of home electronic monitoring.

Roach was ordered to have no contact of any kind with his victims.

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