A self-proclaimed vigilante who attacked a number of registered sex offenders has been jailed for over two decades for assault and robbery.
Jason Vukovich, who referred to himself as an ‘Avenging Angel' for abused children was sentenced in relation to attempted assault and robbery charges.
The 42-year-old's childhood was marred by physical and sexual abuse.
He will spend the next 25 years in jail with a further five years on parole. The sentence is just 5 years less than the maximum penalty available.
Estranged Brother Gives Evidence
Mr Vukovich fronted Anchorage Superior to be sentenced for attacking three registered sex offenders in June 2016.
As part of the sentencing proceedings, his older brother gave evidence of the childhood trauma the pair endured.
Jason Vukovich's brother, Joel Fulton, said that despite years of counselling, he has not yet recovered from the abuse.
“I'm never going to get better — never,” said Fulton, who has a successful career in cybersecurity in California.
Fulton told the judge he wasn't friends with Vukovich and had spoken to him at most twice over the past twenty years. Still, he said he wanted to help him and he asked the court system to “Have mercy on him…Help him.”
Serious Robbery Charges
As part of a plea deal, Vukovich had previously agreed to plead guilty to attempted assault and robbery. In turn, prosecutors agreed to dismiss more than a dozen other charges against him stemming from the attacks.
But the prosecutor, Patrick McKay, argued that there was no excuse for Vukovich to target and attack three strangers, beating one man so badly with a hammer that he fractured his skull and knocked him unconscious.
“We're lucky we're not dealing with a murder charge,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick McKay told the judge. “People do not get to take the law into their own hands just because they don't like a particular group of people or a particular person.”
“Vigilantism is not something that we accept in America,” he told Vukovich. “It's not something that we accept in this community and it is just simply something that will not be tolerated.”
The men Vukovich singled out and attacked were complying with the law, Marston said. They had gone through the court system, received their sentences and put their names on Alaska's public sex offender registry, where Vukovich found their addresses.
“It was not the purpose of the registry to allow people to do their own brand of justice,” Marston told Vukovich. “The purpose of the registry was to keep the community safe.”
Recent Release from Jail
In 2016, Vukovich had recently been released from jail. This followed decades of him being in and out of jail.
According to his criminal lawyers, upon his release he obtained a list of nine names of pedophiles from ‘acquaintances' and carried them with him in a notebook.
Within the space of a week in June 2016, the 42-year-old gained entry to the homes of three of the men. He hit two of them with his fists, and another man with a hammer.
The brutal attacks left one victim with a permanent brain injury. That victim has difficulty constructing sentences. He has also lost his job was unable to pay his rent following the assault.
Addressing the Court, the complainant said, “My life is changed forever.”
Vukovich also stole from the three men he attacked.
Offender Apologises in Court
Speaking to Judge Marston, the offender apologised for his actions saying, “I realize now that I had no business assaulting these individuals or taking the law into my own hands…I should have sought mental health counselling before I exploded.”
Sexual Abuse as Children
As a child, Vukovic and his siblings were both physically and sexually abused by his adoptive father, Larry Lee Fulton.
Detailing the abuse from his father, the self-professed vigilante said, “He was a pretty terrible person in general…He liked to administer beatings with various implements — belts, eventually a two-by-four that he had custom-made — and he used to like to disrupt the night by coming in to sexually assault (me).”
Larry Lee Fulton was convicted of abusing a minor in 1989 and received a three-year suspended sentence.
Vukovich's older brother, Joel Fulton, ran away from home to escape the abuse. Mr Vukovich eventually did the same.
Joel went to college and was able to complete a PhD. He is currently the chief information security officer at a data analytics software company.
He was also able to start a family who he still resides with.
Mr Fulton told the Court that despite this, he still receives counselling to deal with the trauma.
By contrast, Mr Vukovich's life began on a downward spiral. Throughout his life he racked up eight prior convictions. He also struggled with drug addiction and regularly used methamphetamine.
While Judge Marston expressed sympathy for the brothers' childhood experiences, he said Vukovich has ultimately proved he is dangerous and “willing to hurt people.”
Robbery Charges in NSW
Section 94 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines robbery as the use of violence to steal property from another person.
To make out a robbery charge, Police must prove, beyond reasonable doubt that the Accused took property from the alleged victim, had the intention of stealing and used violence or threatened violence to obtain the property.
If any of these elements are not made out, then the Accused will be found ‘not guilty'.
Even if the prosecution can establish all of these elements, there are other defences that can be employed.
The maximum penalty for Robbery is 14 years imprisonment.
However, an experienced criminal lawyer will often be able to negotiate with the prosecution to downgrade the offence to a steal from person charge.
Robbery charges are extremely serious. There are lengthy jail terms which are very difficult to avoid if you are found guilty.
When analysing sentencing statistics for robbery charges, it is unsurprising to see that 84% of persons found guilty of this offence were sentenced to some form of imprisonment. 63% received sentences of full-time imprisonment. All other offenders received criminal convictions.