YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Judge R. Scott Krichbaum is used to quoting legal authorities when he presides over a case.
Monday, he used some authorities that are seldom quoted but never forgotten, the nuns who taught him when he was a schoolboy.
Their words came up as Judge Krichbaum mulled over whether to accept a recommendation of five to six years in prison from the attorneys in the case of Heath Shiflett, 31, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious assault for firing at a car Feb. 13 that contained his girlfriend, his brother and three children inside.
No one was injured in the shooting, which Assistant Prosecutor Michael Rich said came after an argument at a family gathering on the south side. No one actually saw him shoot, but the kids in the car saw “Uncle Heath,” heard a loud bang and later found a bullet hole in the car.
Judge Krichbaum said he was surprised Shiflett did not plead guilty to five counts of felonious assault because there were five people in the car. He said it reminded him of a saying the nuns who taught him said.
“The nuns always taught me if you think of something bad, that’s the same thing as doing something bad,” Judge Krichbaum said. “I always thought that was bad advice – until today.”
Krichbaum said he would abide by the agreement only because doing so meant Shiflett could not appeal. Shiflett said he was sorry but added he was only accepting the plea because his lawyer told him to.
Judge Krichbaum said Shiflett did not take responsibility for his actions and that it was only “by the grace of God” no one was injured.
“The potential for injury in this case was so outrageous, so egregious, that you should do more time,” Judge Krichbaum said.
However, the judge added the fact Shiflett could not appeal and the victims’ approval of the sentence went a long way in deciding to accept the sentencing recommendation. The recommendation also states that prosecutors will not oppose a request for early release, but Judge Krichbaum said he will never approve an early release in the case.
Shiflett does have credit for 178 days served in the county jail awaiting the outcome of his case.