Windsor man sentenced for "gruesome" beating that hospitalized his roommate

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A Windsor man with a violent criminal record spanning three decades was sentenced this week for a 2017 attack on his older, disabled roommate that necessitated the man being airlifted to the hospital for treatment of several serious facial injuries, including the loss of at least one tooth.

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    Djuan “Ike” Smith, 50, pled guilty to a single felony count of first degree aggravated domestic assault and was sentenced to serve 4-to-9 years in jail with credit for the nearly two years he has already been held without bail since the beating took place.

    During Smith’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday a female friend of his testified that he was “actually a good person” and Smith himself stood briefly at the defense table and told Judge Timothy Tomasi that he was “willing to take anger management classes on the outside, if I can, for my actions.”

    The judge agreed that, in addition to a “significant sentence,” Smith “does need proper programming” but he said Smith was also sufficiently dangerous that he should complete it inside the jail before he is released.

    “The defendant does have a number of positive factors on his side that the court has considered,” the judge said from the bench while stressing, “There are significant aggravating factors to take into account as well. Given his long history of assaultive conduct, and this case here, the court does believe that a long period of probationary supervision would be warranted,” when and if Smith is eventually furloughed.

    Windsor Police Officer Kevin Blanchard wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that he and other officers responded to an apartment on Central Street mid-afternoon on Monday, June 12, 2017 for a reported disturbance.

    Blanchard said he was familiar with the residence because he’d been called there before to resolve a “heated dispute” between roommates Smith and John Skevnick, who is now 63 and gets around with the aid of a cane and sometimes a wheelchair.

    Police found Skevnick in “significant pain” slumped in a chair on a stairway landing “moaning with his face covered in a large amount of blood that appeared to be coming from his mouth and nose,” Officer Blanchard recalled, adding that Skevnick’s eyes were nearly swollen shut from the blows he’d sustained.

    A neighbor told police that he and the two men had been drinking in Skevnick’s apartment earlier in the afternoon when “Smith began attempting to start an argument,” causing the witness to leave for his own apartment after which he said he “heard shouting and commotion and observed Smith exit the apartment (with) blood on his left pant leg.”

    A Windsor ambulance crew took Skevnick to Mount Ascutney Hospital where he was initially treated before being transferred by helicopter to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

    Blanchard said he conducted a bedside interview at DHMC where Skevnick signed a sworn statement saying that Smith, who had been sharing his apartment since December, allegedly became infuriated after Skevnick said he wanted him to move out.

    In his own written statement to police, Smith wrote that he initially ignored Skevnick but then the older man allegedly punched him in the nose, knocking Smith down and standing over him delivering additional punches “a few times.”

    “I then swung with a closed fist and punched (Skevnick) in the side of the face and unknown number of times.  He fell down on the ground,” Smith wrote on the signed statement form, “I then hit him approximately three more times in the face.  He fell back.  I then went to leave.”

    Back in 2003, Smith was convicted of both simple assault against his housemate at the time and of violating his probation from a previous 2001 aggravated assault conviction.  As a result, Smith’s probation was revoked and he received an 8-to12 month sentence.

    That 2003 convicted stemmed from an incident in which Smith arranged to get a ride from his housemate so that Smith could go check in with his probation officer before punching out that same friend later in the evening – which promptly got him arrested for violating his probation.

    Windsor Police said their investigation into that incident began when Christopher Cennamo, who was 21 years old at the time, called them saying he’d just gotten back from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center where he’d received three stitches to an open laceration under his eye because Smith had hit him “seven or eight times” the night before.

    “I don’t understand.  I thought we were friends,” Cennamo told Officer Robert North.

    Cennamo said he had been staying with Smith for approximately two months and he was “taken completely off guard” when, after he got up to let Smith inside, Smith became, “enraged because the door was locked when he came home,” North wrote.

    At his initial arraignment for that simple assault, Smith’s court-appointed public defender, Rebecca Cummings, noted that during the year-and-a-half Smith was incarcerated for the earlier aggravated assault he had completed the Department of Correction’s main anger management course, known as the “cognitive self-change program.”

Djuan "Ike" Smith at his initial court appearance in June 2017

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