Judge hands down life sentence in Gloucester Point rape case

Kim Robins - Posted on Mar 26, 2014 - 02:05 PM

A former Gloucester Point resident was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for raping a woman during a home invasion last May.  James Kenneth Tustin, 24, was sentenced in Gloucester Circuit Court by visiting Judge Louis Lerner. 

Lerner also sentenced Tustin to 40 years in prison for sodomy, 40 years for burglary and 20 years for robbery, and suspended those terms. Tustin pleaded guilty to the charges in November. 

“I have to stretch my mind to find a word that would describe what happened that night. It’s incomprehensible to a sane person. It’s beyond me,” Lerner said. “Mr. Tustin, there is no penalty any less that I can impose on you than life.”

During the proceedings in November, Gloucester Commonwealth’s Attorney Holly Smith said the victim, a post-doctorate fellow visiting the county for a research project, was asleep in her Gloucester Point apartment when Tustin broke in. Tustin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with a bandana covering his face, and later claimed he had consumed alcohol and spice prior to the crimes. 

The victim, who did not know Tustin, tried to run, Smith said, but Tustin punched her in the face several times, slammed her against a wall and choked her. He demanded money, then brutally raped and sodomized the victim in a violent attack that Smith said lasted about an hour.  “She thought she was going to die that night,” Smith told Lerner Tuesday, adding that the victim is no longer trusting and is fearful.