Trooper Rodney Smith saw Eric Green as young man down on his luck when they crossed paths near the entrance to the Empire State Plaza concourse on the afternoon of March 3.
Green told the veteran member of the state police that he was new to Albany and was looking for a place to stay. But when Smith asked Green for identification, his encounter with the 18-year-old, homeless man abruptly turned hostile.
Green repeatedly plunged a steak knife into Smith’s neck and then struggled to grab the trooper’s pistol as Smith crumpled to the ground. Smith, who recounted the attack at Green’s sentencing Thursday in Albany County Court, also recalled how his attempt to help someone quickly turned into a struggle for his own life.
“You took that willingness to help and used it in an attempt to take my life by stabbing me on both sides of my neck and kicking me repeatedly in the face while I was down, for the purpose of stealing and using my gun to commit crimes and inflict untold mayhem on our community and the citizens of the city of Albany,” he said during his victim impact statement.
Green, who admitted after his arrest that he was addled on synthetic marijuana during the attack, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Judge Stephen Herrick also ordered him to serve 10 years of post-release supervision.
In issuing his sentence, Herrick told Green he was lucky he didn’t kill Smith. The judge told him he could have easily faced a murder charge were it not for the quick medical attention Smith received after the attack.
“You came very close to murder, very close to murder,” he told Green during the sentencing. “The fact that this happened in Albany, where we have excellent trauma services, and that the trooper was able to get emergency medical attention almost immediately and get to a trauma center, he recovered.”
Herrick cited Green’s tough upbringing and his apparent mental health issues. He also noted Green started using K2 — a type of synthetic marijuana — starting in November 2012.
“About the same time you started hearing voices,” he told Green. “You started having evil, bad thoughts. On the day of this incident, you were smoking K2.”
Smith was nearly struck in a major artery during the stabbing and also sustained deep wounds to his arms and hands as he tried to ward off his attacker on Madison Avenue. After failing to snag the trooper’s pistol, Green made off with his radio, which he dumped a short distance away.
The badly injured Smith was able to call for help using his cellphone.
The stabbing prompted a massive manhunt throughout the plaza, but the transient Green managed to remain at large for nearly three days.
He eventually was apprehended March 5 while walking near Washington and Western avenues. He was arrested without incident and has been in jail without bail since.
He subsequently admitted to single counts of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree robbery as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in July.
He did not give a statement in court Thursday.
Smith, a 15-year veteran of the state police, required emergency surgery at Albany Medical Center. He has since made a full recovery.
He said Green’s attack resonated through law enforcement circles. And he urged Green to use his incarceration to reflect on the poor judgment he exhibited up until his arrest.
“I hope that the years of incarceration that you will serve will give you time to reflect on your poor judgment and will find you a better man that can make a positive influence on society when you get out and to one day have a positive influence on society,” he said.
James Milstein, Green’s public defender, argued for his client to receive youthful offender status.
Herrick ruled he was ineligible based on the “extreme violent nature” of his crime, among other reasons rooted in law.