A 40-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to 23 years in prison for robbing and stabbing an 82-year-old woman outside a Baltimore KFC restaurant. The judge said he would have sent the suspect away for an even longer term if the law allowed it.
The suspect, Rozza Alston, addressed the court with his hands cuffed behind him, wearing a red and blue plaid short-sleeve button-down shirt and long shorts. Speaking in a hushed, barely audible voice, he maintained his innocence and said he was not the type of person who could commit such a crime.
Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory dismissed the statements. "I find you to be extremely disingenuous," he told the defendant, calling him a "predator."
He said he was confident that Alston was guilty and that he had knowingly preyed upon a "vulnerable little lady." The judge complimented the victim, Lilli Sigel, for her willingness to appear in court, saying, "She has been forever damaged" while recognizing her "joie de vivre. ... Her joy in life shines through."
Sigel was attacked Jan. 26, 2007, at the KFC at North Avenue and St. Paul Street when she refused to hand over her purse in the parking lot of the fast-food restaurant. Sigel testified that she was following her Friday routine, picking up a bucket of chicken for an elderly shut-in who lived nearby.
"I'm forever scarred," Sigel told the court yesterday. "This person should not be out on the street."
Sigel told a jury last week that she had been waiting in line when two men approached her and one asked for change for a $5 bill. She declined at first but later she complied with the request.
After getting her chicken, she walked out to her car, where Alston accosted her. When Sigel refused to give the man her pocketbook, he stabbed her six times in the chest, arm and hand.
She finally released her grip on the handbag and her attacker fled with $300, credit cards and a cell phone.
"I will suffer the rest of my life because of the pain in my hand," Sigel said, addressing the court near Alston. She underwent two operations and said she also was emotionally scarred. She is afraid to leave her home with valuables that she cannot replace and is wary of people on the street, she said.
Alston was arrested Feb. 3, 2007, when city police used cell phone records from Sigel's stolen phone to track him down. They later found some of Sigel's credit cards and other personal possessions at Alston's house on St. Paul Street, three blocks from the KFC. Police said Alston confessed.
Sigel was not able to identify her attacker, but Assistant State's Attorneys Staci Pipkin and Keri Borzilleri presented Alston's confession statement, Sigel's possessions that were found in Alston's apartment, and DNA evidence found on clothing and gloves found in Alston's apartment that were linked to Sigel.
A jury convicted Alston of second-degree assault, armed robbery and carrying a dangerous weapon.
Sigel, who lives alone, said she is afraid to drive her car and leave her house alone. "My life is changed forever," she said. "After an episode like that, you are never the same person."