David Sanders will serve two 15- to 20-year sentences in the state penitentiary for shooting a 92-year-old Buffalo woman.
Fourth Judicial District Court Judge John G Fenn ordered that the terms run concurrently and awarded Sanders credit for time served.
Sanders, 22, stood trial in October for the 2007 shooting that injured Virginia Purdy in her Buffalo home. He was found guilty of one count attempted voluntary manslaughter which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in the state penitentiary and one count attempted aggravated burglary punishable by five to 25 years in the state pen
During Monday's sentencing hearing defense attorney James Castberg called three witnesses.
First on the stand was Joyce Jarvis, a Buffalo High School teacher who recalled Sanders' performance in her government and history classes. She said his grades were low but described him as a sensitive and caring person
"He had one of the biggest hearts I've probably seen in a lot of my students" Jarvis said
She added that his desire to get along with others may have led him to make unwise decisions.
"He would do anything to be accepted by adults and his peers" she said "He was easily manipulated by friends and hated to be made fun of by other students."
Sanders dropped out of school before the end of his senior year Jarvis said, just seven credits shy of graduating
Lue Ann Kessler testified that Sanders was considered a "special-needs" student in high school with characteristics indicative of an attention deficit disorder. The Johnson County School District had assigned Kessler as his case manager. She asked that the court consider an alternative placement for Sanders because she finds it difficult to believe he was capable of concocting and committing his crimes without some guidance.
"I'd hate to see him go to the penitentiary" Kessler said. "I do not believe David on his own was able to do something like this. He's a follower."
She went on to say that if alcohol or drugs were involved, his decision-making ability would have been even more impaired.
When a tearful Lori Goeke took the stand to speak in support of her son she apologized to the Purdy family and acknowledged the fact that Sanders should be punished, but asked for the court's compassion.
"I know what it's like to have your family victimized," Goeke said. "David shouldn't go unpunished but … he has never been in trouble with the law prior to this I hope the court will show some mercy."
Johnosn County and prosecuting attorney Chris Wages began his sentencing argument by reading from the victim impact statement in which Purdy pointed out that her life was changed forever now that she could no longer feel safe in her own home.
"One individual took that away from me. Hopefully David will pay dearly for his crime," Wages read.
He added to the victim's statement that Sanders had never truly taken responsibility for his actions.
"He swore he did some kind of miraculous movement with his hand from a moving vehicle and accidentally hit the person he had been stalking," Wages said.
The state recommended consecutive sentences for both counts plus restitution for Purdy's home repairs and home health care resulting from the shooting.
Wages backed the position up saying that while testimony of Sanders' harmless nature did not surprise him, the jury had no doubt taken these factors into account when delivering the verdict. Despite the fact that Sanders was convicted of the lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter rather than attempted murder in the first or second degree, he said Purdy could have been killed due to his actions.
"There's no way to square that with any acceptable behavior," Wages said.
Castberg essentially agreed with that statement.
"What he did was terribly wrong," the defense attorney said. "No person has the right to do what my client has done."
But he argued that the sentences should be concurrent rather than consecutive because the two offenses had taken place at the same time.
Both attorneys agreed Sanders should receive credit for the time served since his arrest Sept. 13, 2007.
Before the judge issued sentencing Sanders made an apology for his actions.
"I've hurt a lot of people – especially Ms. Purdy – and caused a lot of stress and destruction in her life," he began. "I've hurt people close to me I did a horrible thing, but I'm not a horrible person. I don't expect to go unpunished, I learned a lot of lessons. Hopefully when I get out I'll be a productive member of society."
Fenn ordered an additional $55,883 in restitution for home repairs and $30,718 for home health care. In handing down prison time the judge considered what he referred to as "a number of aggravating circumstances."
"The defendant definitely plotted and planned to scare a senior citizen out of her home so he could burglarize her" he explained. "The plotting and planning is an aggravated circumstance."
He also said he was taking into account the defendant's age lack of significant criminal history and the fact that he had been "hanging out with his buddies thinking of ways to rob old ladies in their community."