COA upholds sentence for man who repeatedly stabbed wife

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A Lake County man who stabbed repeatedly stabbed his wife did not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday that his nearly 30-year sentence for the crime was inappropriate.

After his wife told him that their marriage wasn’t working out, Rogerick Denham proceeded to stab her with a pocketknife more than 25 times all over her body, requiring her to get nearly 40 stitches and reconstructive surgery.

When officers arrived, Denham was found fleeing the scene and was subsequently arrested. His charges of attempted murder, domestic battery by means of a deadly weapon and domestic battery resulting in serious bodily injury were all dismissed in exchange for a plea agreement finding him guilty of Level 3 felony aggravated battery with a habitual offender enhancement.

Denham was sentenced to an aggregate 29-year sentence, with 15 years for aggravated battery and 14 years on the habitual offender enhancement. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his sentence as appropriate, noting that the crime was “incredibly violent” and that the offense “called for nothing less than an aggravated sentence.”

Contending that the sentence was inappropriate in light of his character, Denham asserted that his untreated mental illness, cooperation with law enforcement, strides to improve himself, and remorse all reflected positively on his character and warranted a lesser sentence. However, the appellate court found Denham’s criminal history reflected that he is a repeat and violent offender, including, among other crimes, voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon and domestic battery.

“Nonetheless, Denham asserts that he is ‘working to improve himself’ because he had participated in a life skills program while incarcerated. Denham’s completion of a single program of that nature does not warrant a lesser sentence. Similarly, Denham’s willingness to act as a State’s witness against a fellow inmate does not begin to excuse the fact that he brutally stabbed his wife more than twenty-five times,” Judge Robert Altice wrote for the appellate court.

Additionally, it found Denham did not present evidence establishing that his mental illness had a nexus to his commission of the aggravated battery.

“Even so, the trial court did find that Denham’s mental health was a somewhat mitigating factor before pronouncing sentence,” the appellate court wrote. “Finally, Defendant argues that his remorse for his actions reflects positively on his character. Although Denham expressed some remorse for his actions, he attempted to minimize his culpability by relying on his anxiety and depression, his embarrassment from working at McDonalds, and the fear of losing his relationship with his wife.”

It thus affirmed Denham’s sentence and conviction in Rogerick Demar Denham v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-02164.

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