BRENTWOOD - A Portsmouth man received the maximum sentence for attempting to kidnap a woman as she got out of her SUV at a shopping plaza, and almost got ordered to pay for the gun she later bought to protect herself.
James Perry, 37, was sentenced to 7½ to 15 years in state prison Thursday, drawing harsh words from Judge N. William Delker about the lifelong fear he imposed on the victim, Katherine Booth.
"My only regret in this case is that I can't sentence you to more than the maximum," Delker said. "You are a complete predator. ... You are a walking example of what society fears and why people like Ms. Booth are driven to the point where" they have to carry a gun.
The attempted abduction happened Dec. 14, 2011, in the parking lot of an Ocean State Job Lots store on Woodbury Avenue in Portsmouth.
Prosecutors asked that the cost of the firearm - roughly $500 - be covered through Perry's court-ordered restitution, a request that Delker said was not allowed by law. Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway argued that Booth would have never bought the firearm to protect herself but for Perry's actions.
Perry claimed at trial that eyewitness testimony by Booth was not completely reliable and that his jacket - recovered in woods near the store - had a secondary, lesser DNA profile in addition to his own, suggesting another man could have been the attacker.
Booth faced Perry in the courtroom Thursday, admonishing him for going through with a trial in the hopes that she wouldn't be able to identify him.
"This was the most horrific thing that ever happened to me. It has changed my life and the way I see the world forever," she said.
Booth was able to get away from her assailant after refusing to get in her vehicle, prompting Perry to flee on foot.
"He didn't just back off," Conway said Thursday. "He continued to try and keep her under his control by essentially pushing her over in the car and diving over her."
Public defender Anthony Naro argued for Delker to suspend 3½ to seven years from the sentence, acknowledging there were aggravating factors in the case.
Naro said the law on restitution is clear - buying a firearm cannot be counted as part of compensating a victim.
Conway argued for a maximum prison sentence, citing Perry's criminal history, which included serving 7½ to 15 years in prison for two counts of armed robbery in 1995. Perry was convicted of forgery in 2004 and for being a habitual offender in 2012.
Booth said the majority of women she shared her story with told her they would have gotten in the car with him. Perry said she might not be alive if she went with him.
"This has been all-consuming for the past year," Booth said. "Whether it be with family or friends, my life has revolved around this one incident and the changes that have taken place since."