A Leesburg man has been sentenced to prison for a shooting that wounded someone he described as a friend.
Roger M. Hatfield, 62, will spend four years in prison for the second-degree felony felonious assault offense he pled guilty to in September.
Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins on Thursday requested “no less than five years” for the offense that she called “one of the more serious.”
“There’s no question of the seriousness” of the offense, defense attorney Conrad Curren said. There was alcohol involved, he said, and Hatfield was “extremely remorseful” for what had happened.
The wheelchair-bound Hatfield explained to the court the nature of his physical state, that it was the result of an injury more than a year ago that partially severed his spinal cord. Along with not being able to use his legs, he said he also has problems using his arms and hands at times, too.
But his physical state aside, Hatfield said, “I’ve went over this a million times, your honor,” but he said he still doesn’t know why it happened. “I’m sorry it happened,” he said, adding that he wished the victim, whom he called a friend, was there so he could say it to him.
Judge Rocky Coss noted Hatfield and the victim had been drinking, and he also noted the defendant’s lack of a criminal history, that he had led a “relatively law abiding life” save for some traffic-related offenses. The judge said the defendant was a veteran, and he had worked until he couldn’t work anymore.
Coss spoke of his surprise that, given the defendant’s physical impairments, he was able to pick a gun up and fire it.
But, he said, “You did lose control and pick up a gun and shoot your friend.”
The judge said Hatlfield was fortunate that he wasn’t facing murder charges.
According to Coss, Hatfield told the police that responded to the scene in July that the man had been calling him and his daughter names. He said he had been trying to scare his friend, not hurt him. But the bullet he fired struck the other man in the upper right chest, penetrating the right lung and the right shoulder blade and fracturing ribs along the way.
“It’s a situation where a prison term is necessary,” Coss said.
Two other people were also ordered to prison in Thursday hearings.
Drew Alec Walsh, 29, Hillsboro, admitted to probation violations and was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
His violations included not reporting to probation, failing to report a change of address to probation, and also failing to notify probation of an encounter with law enforcement, among other things.
Coss said Walsh had “pretty much not been compliant with anything.”
Walsh was placed on community control and ordered to complete STAR after pleading guilty last December to two counts of fifth-degree felony heroin possession.
On Thursday he was ordered to serve 10 months on each of the counts, consecutively.
Chelsea Bates, 24, Washington C.H., also admitted to violating her probation by being terminated from a treatment program she was ordered by the court to complete.
She pled guilty earlier this year to fifth-degree felony heroin possession. On Thursday she was sentenced to nine months in prison for that offense.
Four defendants were granted intervention in lieu of conviction, which means a first-time offender enters a guilty plea but further prosecution is ceased while a defendant is in treatment. If a defendant successfully completes the program and a set time of probation, the felony is dismissed.
Those four are: Heidi R. Edwards, 26, Hillsboro, pled guilty to fifth-degree felony heroin possession; Jeremiah Russell Eidenier, 40, Hillsboro, pled guilty to fifth-degree felony heroin possession; Heather Maeline Nicole Trivett, 24, Hillsboro, pled guilty to fifth-degree felony aggravated possession of methamphetamine; and Tiffani Simon, 19, New Holland, pled guilty to fifth-degree felony aggravated possession of methamphetamine.
In other hearings, Patrick W. Pence, 45, Hillsboro, admitted to probation violations that included opiate use and failing to complete a program he was referred to by probation.
Pence was sentenced to community control and treatment in 2013 after he pled guilty to fourth-degree felony theft. On Thursday he was ordered to successfully complete a relapse program.
Paul E. Seitz Jr., 42, Leesburg, pled guilty to third-degree felony sexual battery and two counts of fourth-degree felony pandering obscenity involving a minor.
Seitz is scheduled to be sentenced in December following a presentence investigation.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.