Assailant sentenced to 20 years in prison for attack with bat

Published 10:58 am Friday, November 9, 2012

An Austin man convicted of attempted second-degree murder is going to prison for 20 years.

Galuak Michael Rotgai, 28, was sentenced Thursday in Mower County Court but has not yet been sentenced for his other conviction of first-degree assault.

Rotgai was found guilty for hitting a man in the back of the head with a baseball bat on April 8 and again striking the victim as he lay on the ground.

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Rotgai’s victim, a 39-year-old Sudanese man, was in St. Marys hospital for a long time, unresponsive. In court, prosecutors said the victim will suffer lifelong complications.

According to the court complaint, a witness at the crime scene — at apartments in northwest Austin along Highway 218 — called 911 and reported that a 39-year-old man had been struck in the head after arguing with another man. When a deputy arrived, the victim was lying on the floor, not breathing or blinking and surrounded by bodily fluids, according to the complaint.

The deputy saw three men standing in the kitchen, one of whom was Rotgai. The complaint then states Rotgai told the deputy a man in a white shirt was the assailant and fled the scene; however, one of the witnesses told the deputy, “He’s right here,” and pointed at Rotgai.

The deputy arrested Rotgai and took him to a squad car while two other officers gave the victim CPR and detected a heartbeat after four minutes of resuscitation.

Detectives interviewed the witnesses and Rotgai. One witness heard a loud argument and a “thud,” according to the complaint. It also states that when this witness came out of a bedroom room, Rotgai was standing over the motionless victim and struck him two more times on the back of the head. The witness then said he took the bat from Rotgai and called 911. Deputies later found the bat in the witness’s bedroom, who said he didn’t know how it got there, according to the complaint.

Another witness was drinking with Rotgai when the victim entered the apartment and asked for a DVD or CD, at which point Rotgai grabbed the bat and struck the victim and once more while he lay on the floor, according to the complaint. The witness also said the victim had no weapon on him and was not acting aggressively before he was attacked.

Rotgai claimed he was sleeping on his mattress in the living room and was awaken by commotion and saw the victim fall, hit his head on the kitchen table and then the floor, the complaint states. Rotgai also said he’s never met the victim, did not own a bat and said the other men in the room claimed the victim was there to kill people, the complaint states. After that, Rotgai changed his story and said he knew the victim and was afraid of him. Rotgai added the victim came to get a DVD or CD and threatened to kill him, according to the complaint. Rotgai admitted to grabbing the bat and hitting the victim while the victim kicked back. According to the compliant, Rotgai admitted to hitting the victim once more after the victim fell.