Homeless man gets 25 years in brick attack on woman

Beating caught on video outside Orlando church

Judy Colaneri.
Judy Colaneri.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A homeless man accused of beating his ex-girlfriend with a brick and trying to kill her outside a downtown Orlando church accepted a plea deal on Friday.

Christopher Romans, 39, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and domestic battery in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence. Romans will be eligible for parole and could be released when he's about 60 years old, the judge said.

The attack, which was captured on video, occurred on the steps of the downtown Baptist church on Pine Street in September 2011.

Judy Colaneri, Romans' ex-girlfriend, recounted the attack in court Friday morning. She said Romans invited her to sleep on the church steps and then attacked her.

"The only thing I see is when he was on top of me, choking me. His face was bright red... and that's all I see every night when I close my eyes," said Colaneri, who has now changed her name to Raine Becker.

Surveillance video showed Romans smashing a brick into the back of her head before he tried to choke her.

She suffered a concussion was able to run away and flag down a passing car for help.

In court Friday, she held back tears as she retold a judge what happened the night of the attack; Romans sat emotionless. Although he accepted a plea deal that will send him to prison for 25 years, it is far less than the life sentence she had hoped for.

But her frustration with the law began when just after this attack a judge failed to grant her an injuction against Romans. The law did not consider the attack domestic abuse because they didn't live together in a house. Because they were homeless, she fell through the cracks.

"Because I was homeless... now I'm expendable, now my life doesn't count, now my life doesn't matter," she said.

After her attack she's changed her life. She's off the streets and has one focus: To change the law that failed to protect her from her attacker.

"All this bad stuff didn't happen for nothing good to come out of it," she said. "Something beautiful is going to come out of this. I'm going to make sure of that. I'm not going to stop until it does."

She continues to suffer from memory loss and has not seen a doctor in the year after the attack.

She said she does not have closure because she still does not know why he attacked her that night.