The man charged last summer in a brutal attack at a Southeast Roanoke ice cream shop learned his punishment Tuesday.
Jordan Lee Ornes got an active sentence of 15½ years to serve. He will also carry an additional 23 years in suspended time and, after his release, will be on probation indefinitely. While in custody he must undergo psychiatric therapy and comply with treatment recommendations.
Ornes, 27, pleaded guilty in March to aggravated malicious wounding, violating a protective order while armed, assaulting the subject of a protective order and making threats to kill. He pleaded no contest to a related count of malicious wounding.
The charges stemmed from a July 12 attack at the Blue Cow Ice Cream Co. in the 1100 block of Piedmont Street. Ornes used what appeared to be a steak knife to stab 26-year-old Rachel Shelton, an employee at the shop whom he knew. He also attacked her father, Marcus Shelton, 62, after the man came to her aid.
Prosecutors have said Rachel Shelton endured five wounds to her chest, and her father was treated for cuts and a concussion he sustained during the struggle.
In fashioning the prison term, Roanoke Circuit Court Judge William Broadhurst went slightly above the sentencing guidelines, which suggested punishments of between roughly six and 13 years.
Broadhurst acknowledged Ornes’ lengthy history of mental illness but also said the attack displayed “a level of mal-intent that needs to be addressed.”
“While it [Ornes’ psychiatric problem] differentiates his motives, it doesn’t excuse it,” Broadhurst said.
In a summary of facts presented at Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorney Kathleen Pritts said that when Ornes was just a baby, his father was sent to prison.
Other, more internal problems soon began to manifest themselves.
“He began showing signs of mental illness when he was in high school,” including depression and schizophrenia, Pritts explained, and she described how Ornes as a teen went from winning academic awards to failing classes and being cited for truancy.
“His mother did nothing to act on those signs” and eventually terminated parental rights over her son, Pritts said.
Later, in January 2016, while Ornes was living in Radford with a group of college students, he began making threats against his roommates, one of whom was Rachel Shelton.
Roanoke Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Alice Ekirch said that marked the beginning of years of disturbing behavior by Ornes against Shelton and others.
Radford police were called multiple times because Ornes threatened violence against his roommates, and he finally was sent to Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion. There, Ekirch said, he attacked a female nursing assistant for several minutes, choking her and trying to gouge her eyes. That landed him in Central State Hospital for more than a year before he was transferred in June 2017 to Catawba Hospital. There, he showed signs of responding to medication.
When Ornes was released for good behavior in September 2017, he began participating in treatment with Blue Ridge Behavioral Health. Ekirch said the organization found him housing at an apartment on Clarke Avenue in Southwest Roanoke which, by coincidence, turned out to be across the street from a business where Shelton worked. Over time, Ornes discontinued his treatment and his medication and began trying to contact Shelton, a pursuit that culminated almost a year later, in July 2018, with her being granted a protective order against Ornes and his attack on the Sheltons two days later.
“Those few moments … profoundly changed and altered so many aspects of their lives,” Ekirch said in court.