A 21-year-old Juneau man with mental health issues was sentenced Thursday to serve a year in prison for a home intrusion, a case that had undertones of an attempted sexual assault which prosecutors say terrified the 19-year-old victim.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg imposed the sentence recommended by prosecutors: three years in prison with two years suspended, plus five years of supervised probation after his release.
The judge also required Joshua R. Jones to receive a psychological evaluation and treatment, as requested by both prosecutors and the defense. Defense attorney Grace Lee said Jones is possibly bipolar or schizophrenic and needs to be on medication, an observation the judge agreed with.
“There have been times in court when I’ve looked at Mr. Jones and he seems to be responding to internal stimuli, which is a fancy way of saying he’s hearing something the rest of us are not hearing,” Pallenberg said.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Polasky said Jones entered a residence on May 27 and approached the 19-year-old woman at home as if he knew her, called her “baby” and attempted to be “affectionate” with her.
“She had no idea who he was and was terrified,” Polasky said.
Jones continued to grab at her, the prosecutor said, and then became aggressive and pulled her by her throat onto a bed. Despite her cries and demands for him to leave, Jones then removed his pants and the woman thought she was going to be raped, Polasky said.
Out of nowhere, Jones decided to leave the house, giving the woman time to lock the door behind him and call the police, Polasky told the judge. While she was on the phone with dispatchers, Jones came back, pounded on the window and demanded to be let in. He was apprehended shortly thereafter.
Polasky said he considered bringing an attempted sexual assault charge, but thought it would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jones intended to sexually assault the woman when he first entered the residence, given his state of mind. The fact that Jones continued his behavior after the woman said ‘No,’ though, was enough to warrant a harassment charge, Polasky said, although that charge was later dismissed as part of the plea deal. Jones pleaded guilty in November to attempted first-degree burglary, and the deal dismissed the harassment charge and a misdemeanor assault charge.
Assistant Public Defender Lee told the judge that Jones reported being confused when he went into the residence and thought the woman was someone else. He had gone to the area originally to visit a different person, she said. Lee added that Jones said he thought the victim was saying “No,” to the barking dog in the house and not to him.
Lee urged the judge to address the underlying mental health issues, as did Polasky, who said Jones presents a danger to the public if untreated. Polasky said he fashioned the sentence to address the victim’s trauma but also the mental health component by requesting the long probation period so Jones can continue to be monitored after his release.
Lee asked the judge not give up on her client, saying, “He’s not beyond help” and that he does have moments of clarity. She said Jones has had opportunities in the past to receive help, but he himself has not been willing to accept the help.
The judge agreed and added he is obligated to consider Jones’ prospects for rehabilitation given his young age. Pallenberg noted the issues were present in Jones’ past crimes (four misdemeanors, no felonies), and noted it was concerning how Jones lands himself back in jail every time he is released.
Jones received 60 days in prison for a December 2011 assault wherein he punched someone while playing the video game ‘Call of Duty.’ Shortly after on Jan. 6, 2012, Jones got in trouble for what was essentially a ‘strong-arm robbery,’ as the judge called it, against a cab driver. He received four months in jail for that incident. He was sentenced for those crimes in March 2012.
Shortly after he was released in May 2012, he entered someone’s hotel room at Extended Stay America and had to be physically removed. He was charged with criminal trespass and received about five months in jail. There was also an assault in March 2013 that led up to this incident.
The charge in this case, attempted first-degree burglary, is a class ‘C’ felony that can be punishable by up to five years in prison, but since Jones does not have any prior felony convictions he falls under the presumptive sentencing range of zero to two years. Pallenberg found an aggravating factor — a history of assaultive behavior — proposed by prosecutors that allowed the presumptive range to be bumped up to three years. The judge also imposed an additional six months to serve from one of the previous misdemeanor cases where Jones had suspended time hanging over his head.
In his comments to Jones, Pallenberg said the victim’s sense of security is likely shattered given the facts of the case, but that he can only sentence someone for the crime for which they’ve been convicted. He warned Jones that he should accept the mental health treatment if he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Jones declined to say anything when asked if he had any comments to the court.
The victim in the case was not present for sentencing.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.