Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Avenging angel or tormented criminal?
One of the great things about social media is the ability to post an opinion. What you learn when you read comments after a story online is that those opinions can be downright frightening.
Case in point is the story of Jason Vukovich, the self-described avenging angel, charged with barging into the homes of three Anchorage men in less than a week and beating them with his fists and a hammer.
The victims in this case were on Anchorage’s sex offender registry. Vukovich says he was administering justice for what he believes was the light sentences the men had served for their crimes.
He’s also charged with stealing items from his victims, including a truck and laptop computer.
Eighteen felony charges in all, including three Class A felonies, each carrying a sentence of 20 years.
In theory, Vukovich could be in jail for the rest of his life.
The Alaska Dispatch News reports receiving a letter from Vukovich, saying he would plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of eight years and nine months — the combined sentences received by the sex offenders he attacked.
The state prosecutor would not comment on Vukovich’s offer, but if you read the comments on the story, you would think the avenging angel should be considered for man of the year.
“Give him the medal of honor,” writes one commentator. “How about a large reward and a vacation?” writes another. And some legal advice: take no deals, because no jury in Alaska would convict him.
We’re not talking one or two comments like this, but dozens of them.
Look, the last thing I’m going to do is defend sex offenders, but do we really want vigilantes meteing out justice?
Vukovich says he was molested repeatedly as a child, and by all accounts it effected one bad decision after another as an adult. Prosecutors say he’s served convictions on a string of charges including fraud, theft, drug possession and assault. In fact, prosecutors say he attacked the first of his victims just a day after getting out of jail.
I’m not convinced Vukovich sought vengeance, as much as he did an excuse to beat and rob the most undesirable people in our community.
When Vukovich gets out of jail next time, he’s going to need counseling — not a medal. And I’m wondering how many of his online defenders will be there for him. Not many, I suspect.
Because it’s easy to have an opinion if you don’t have to live with the consequences.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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