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Pasco beating victim, state diverge on whom to blame more

NEW PORT RICHEY — He kidnapped the mother of his newborn son and tried to kill her weeks after she gave birth — and his new girlfriend helped.

In the eyes of the state, Robert Anthony Roakes was the more culpable of the two defendants.

But not in the eyes of the victim.

That's why Misty Chapman asked a judge last year to spare Roakes the maximum sentence of 30 years.

"I feel that what happened that night was instigated," Chapman told the court.

Instigated, the victim believed, by Roakes' girlfriend-turned-co-defendant, Nadine Scherer.

It was Scherer's turn to be sentenced Friday. This time, in a letter to the judge, the victim made it clear that this defendant should be shown no leniency.

The state, however, saw things differently.

• • •

Soon after trading Florida for Virginia, Roakes and Chapman broke up. Then he met up with Scherer.

The two are accused of luring Chapman out late the night of Feb. 26, 2007, ambushing her, beating her, then taking her prisoner in their van.

The victim escaped the moving vehicle on State Road 52. A passing sheriff's deputy rescued her. The couple drove off but were soon captured.

Here is where their paths diverged.

In September a jury found Roakes, now 27, guilty of attempted murder.

Scherer, 26, testified against him. The state reduced her attempted murder charge to felony battery.

"There were no promises made to her before she testified," said Assistant State Attorney Michael Kenny. "She said she wanted to testify."

Scherer pleaded no contest in February, leaving her fate up to a judge. That day arrived Friday.

• • •

Chapman spent nine days in intensive care after the attack.

She did not come to Friday's sentencing. She could not be reached for comment. But she did write a letter to the judge.

She cannot go out at night, she wrote. She is afflicted by nightmares and a paralyzing pain.

"It is safe to say that I will suffer physically from this incident for the rest of my life," she wrote.

And then she took it out on Scherer: "She is insane," Chapman wrote. "She knew exactly what she was doing and she meant to do it."

But that's not what Chapman said about Roakes when he was sentenced in November.

"(With) Robert alone, it wouldn't have gotten that way at all," the victim wrote to the court then. "Nadine initiated it. She was very aggressive."

• • •

Last year, Roakes got 22 years in prison.

On Friday, Scherer got 5 years.

But she has to serve only 2 1/2 years. Circuit Judge Jack Day suspended the other half. If she violates her 2 1/2 years of probation, she could face the full prison term.

Here's why each defendant got what they got:

The state believed Roakes took a lead role in the crime and that he inflicted the most harm. He had a criminal record. And he was convicted by a jury.

Scherer had one prior arrest. She testified. She cooperated. No deal was ever made, but the state believed Scherer mitigated her role. That's why the charge in her case was reduced — despite what the victim believed her role to be.

"He definitely looked like he had a more culpable role based on his prior record and his actions that night," said Kenny, the prosecutor. "But at the same time it's not like Scherer didn't commit a bad crime."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco beating victim, state diverge on whom to blame more 03/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 30, 2008 9:38am]

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