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Rhode Island man sentenced for attempted murder after hitting victim with car, leaving him disabled



Attorney General Peter Neronha announced that a Rhode Island man has been sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve at the Adult Correctional Institutions after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of a 31-year-old male victim in Pawtucket.

At a sentencing hearing on May 4, 2023, Superior Court Justice Stephen P. Nugent sentenced 53-year-old James Rohelia to 34 years, with 17 years to serve at the ACI followed by a consecutive 17-year suspended sentence with 34 years of probation.

On February 27, 2023, the defendant entered a plea of guilty of one count of assault with intent to murder, one count of felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury resulting.

“This is a particularly cruel case of violence for violence’s sake,” said Attorney General Neronha. “This defendant acted out of unpredictable and unprovoked rage, and was willing to take a man’s life over nothing. I am thankful that the victim survived, and I hope he can find comfort in knowing his assailant will spend many well-deserved years in prison. And of course, I am grateful to men and women of the Pawtucket Police Department for their outstanding work investigating this case and so many others.”

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that on June 11, 2018, Rohelia intentionally hit the victim with his vehicle and immediately fled the scene.

Earlier that evening, the victim and his family were shopping at Walgreens. While inside, Rohelia brushed by the victim and began to verbally assault him before they eventually went their separate ways. After leaving the store, the victim and his family were traveling on foot when Rohelia approached them in his vehicle. Rohelia exited the vehicle and engaged in a physical fight with the victim. After the victim punched Rohelia several times, he reentered his vehicle and drove directly into the victim. The victim landed on the hood of Rohelia’s vehicle and was thrown from the hood onto the pavement before Rohelia fled the scene.

After interviewing several witnesses and obtaining several positive photo identifications of Rohelia, officers surrounded him at his home in Pawtucket and arrested him without incident.

The victim sustained severe injuries from the assault, leaving him with permanent disabilities that impact his daily life.

“Cases like these are life-changing for the victim and startling for our residents. I want to thank everyone who worked on this case and helped bring this defendant to justice so that he can no longer be a danger to our community,” said Pawtucket Acting Public Safety Director and Police Chief Tina Goncalves. “Thanks to the Pawtucket Police Department and Attorney General’s Office for their hard work and diligence in investigating and prosecuting the defendant.”

Assistant Attorney General Robert E. Johnson IV of the Office of the Attorney General and Sergeant Michael Cioe and Detectives Ray Doran (Ret.) and David Silva (Ret.) of the Pawtucket Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.

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