The man convicted of shooting a woman in the face last year in what prosecutors said was an ongoing obsession with her was sentenced Monday to a total of 31 years in state prison.
Karon McFarland, who was sentenced by Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Michael Coccoma, continued to maintain his innocence.
McFarland, 19, was convicted in January of first-degree assault, along with burglary and weapons counts. The jury found he fired multiple shots, hitting 28-year-old Averil Hall in the face Feb. 14, 2010.
The judge noted that, but for the actions of the responding officers and others, Hall might not have survived and McFarland would have faced a murder count.
“To give a lesser sentence would mean that human life is cheap to this court,” Coccoma told McFarland, “and it is not.”
McFarland’s sentence was 22 years on the assault conviction and nine years on the burglary and weapons counts. The sentences are to run consecutively.
McFarland was charged days after the shooting. Police said he kicked in the downstairs door of a Chrisler Avenue residence and shot Hall as she stood on the second-floor landing.
The shooting took place shortly after 5:30 a.m. Prosecutors contended that it was the culmination of McFarland‘s obsession with Hall. The two had known each other for years.
Before the trial, prosecutors were denied permission to tell the jury about the nature of their connection — drug dealing.
The night before the shooting McFarland ran errands for Hall while she went out. She brought another man home. Willis argued to the jury in his closings that what set McFarland off that morning was the object of his obsession going home with someone else.
The shooting was also immediately preceded by a series of phone calls and text messages from a phone linked to McFarland.
Hall was present in court Monday but chose not to give a victim impact statement.
Prosecutor Peter Willis later that Hall was satisfied with the sentence.
“That is definitely a significant amount of time, and it’s appropriate for what he did,” Willis said later.
In court, Willis asked for the maximum allowed.
Willis noted testimony from Hall during the trial about the life-altering injuries she suffered.
“Every facet of her life was changed irrevocably on the day in question and it was changed by the defendant’s actions,” Willis told the court. “She will live with those injuries and their impact the rest of her life.”
McFarland’s attorney, Cheryl Coleman, asked the judge to consider that, except for his conviction in the Hall shooting, McFarland had no criminal history. “I respectfully submit that that does count for something,” Coleman said.
She said in her contacts with McFarland, she always found him to be polite and pleasant. She also argued he had a tough childhood.
McFarland gave his own brief statement to the court, first addressing Hall’s injuries, then arguing that he had previously helped others. But he ultimately maintained his innocence.
Regarding Hall’s injuries, McFarland said no one should have to go through what Hall did. About himself, he said he had helped others, including the elderly.
But, on the crime itself, he wasn’t the one who shot Hall, he told the court.
“I, Karon McFarland, maintain my innocence,” McFarland told the court.
Coleman argued at trial that the case was full of inconsistencies and police quickly zeroed in on McFarland without investigating anyone else.
Prosecutors argued McFarland intended to kill Hall. McFarland also faced a count of second-degree attempted murder.
But the jury did not agree with prosecutors that McFarland intended to kill Hall, finding him innocent of that charge and a lesser assault count. The jury could not reach a verdict on another first-degree assault charge filed under a different theory of law.
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