Portland man who attacked homeless people gets 10 years

Officer Matt Jacobsen of the Portland Police Bureau Neighborhood Response Team is credited for building trust with the victims, leading to the arrest


By Aimee Green
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 34-year-old homeless man who seriously injured four other homeless people with knives or a chain in the downtown and Old Town Portland areas was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday.

Juan Sensational Dickens knew all four of the victims. From Aug. 2015 to Nov. 2018, he stabbed a man in the back, used a bicycle chain and lock to hit a man on the head, stabbed another man in the torso, and stabbed a fourth man in the ribs, causing doctors to remove the man’s spleen, according to investigators.

Dickens had confronted the victims for different reasons -- in one case he was upset a man had decided to stop selling drugs, said Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. Dickens, who also sold drugs and was an associate of the man, approached the man from behind and stabbed him repeatedly, authorities said.

Weisberg said the case took years to prosecute because the victims were afraid that Dickens might retaliate against them if they worked with police and prosecutors. Nathan Vasquez, the senior deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, credited Officer Matt Jacobsen of the Portland Police Bureau Neighborhood Response Team for building trust with the victims -- ultimately leading to Dickens’ 10-year prison sentence.

During the hearing last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Dickens pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted aggravated murder -- which was charged under the theory that he attacked two victims in the process of stealing a bike and a SIM card. He also pleaded no contest to attempted murder and first-degree assault.

Dickens’ defense attorney, Alicia Hercher, said her client faced 10 to 35 years or more if convicted of all of the counts against him.

Dickens’ criminal history includes 15 felony convictions stretching back to his teen years. Most of those convictions are for possessing or selling drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

“Many of the victims lived in fear because of Mr. Dickens,” said Vasquez, in a news release. “This one individual – because of his many vicious attacks - had so much power on the streets of Portland. ...Today, they no longer have to fear running into Mr. Dickens while in our community.”

©2019 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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