Rouzer Sentenced In Attempted Murder Case
Still awaiting trial in neighboring Franklin County on charges he hired a hitman from jail to finish off an area couple slated to testify against him, Gregory Aaron Rouzer appeared in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas last week to receive a minimum sentence of 14 years and 7 months in a state correctional institution for the attempted murder of Randy Walters.
In handing down the sentence, which has a maximum limit of 50 years, Judge John R. Walker told the Harrisonville area man neither he nor the jury believed the "squirrel hunting story" used as an alibi to validate his presence outside the 3420 Sipes Mill Road, Warfordsburg, home shared by Walters and Marian Wertz on February 7.
During a three-day trial, Walters previously testified he was awakened from bed by his girlfriend, who had spotted someone lurking behind their shed at approximately 7:30 a.m. When confronting the individual, who was identified as Rouzer, Rouzer shot Walters three times with a .22 caliber rifle. In return fire, Rouzer sustained shotgun pellets to the leg.
Rouzer remained on the lam from law enforcement officials for eight days following the shooting, until he was picked up outside the Chambersburg Hospital emergency room amid reports he was turning himself in with aid from a Franklin County attorney and his ex-girlfriend.
In asking Judge Walker to impose the maximum sentence allowable by law, Marian Wertz told the court last Wednesday her involvement with the extended Rouzer family began more than 16 years ago when ex-fiance Gary Rouzer attempted suicide. The Rouzers, Wertz stated, have continued to hold her responsible for the incident.
Wertz recounted the tremendous pain endured by herself and her family over the years as they have been the recipients of hang-up telephone calls, a birthday card containing dried blood and even an attempted break-in at their home. Since the shooting, Wertz stated she has suffered panic attacks, severe anxiety as well as difficulties eating and sleeping. She had also gotten into the routine of switching vehicles and distancing herself from loved ones, causing her to feel more like a criminal instead of a victim.
In follow-up statements, Wertz's daughter, Crystal Booth, stated she felt sure that Rouzer's breakdown outside her mother's residence in the months prior to the shooting was "phony." Given the history between the two families, Booth added had she been in Greg Rouzer's shoes she would have walked 50 miles in a blizzard to avoid speaking to their family and get help elsewhere.
Questioning Rouzer as to why he would do this to her family, Booth stated she lives in fear that she'll receive a telephone call that her mother has been murdered. As a result of Rouzer's actions, Booth noted his last breath should be taken from behind bars and he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
"His intentions were well calculated," said Booth, who added God was on their side when her mother spotted Rouzer's leg sticking out from behind their shed.
Absent during the sentencing were members of Rouzer's family, including parents Kenneth Vernon and Mae Rouzer. Defense attorney Eric Weisbord informed the court at Rouzer's request his family was asked to refrain from attending the court proceedings on October 1 at the Fulton County Courthouse.
Justifying the sentences imposed for attempted murder, aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, aggravated assault with bodily injury while using a deadly weapon and criminal trespassing, Judge Walker stated he felt Rouzer was waiting to ambush Walters and not even snakes lay in ambush. Furthermore, shooting Walters three times after being confronted outside the shed was an example of unacceptable conduct.
As Rouzer will lose his rights to possess or own a firearm, Judge Walker further suggested Rouzer take up archery following his release from state prison. The possession of bow and arrows by Rouzer, however, will be an issue to be rectified in the future by the state parole and probation board.