Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Associated Press
MANCHESTER, N.H. – A Litchfield man was sentenced Monday to 60 years to life in prison for the attempted murder of a Manchester police officer, who said he got all the satisfaction he desired when he locked eyes with his assailant from the witness stand.
Myles Webster looks back at Manchester Police Officer Daniel Doherty at the start if his sentencing hearing, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Manchester, N.H. Webster was convicted in December of shooting Doherty last March, shattering his leg and causing serious internal injuries. On Monday, Webster was sentenced to 60 years to life in prison. (AP Photo/Union Leader, David Lane, Pool)
"That's all the fulfillment I needed," Officer Daniel Doherty said. Although he's still recovering from seven bullet wounds, Doherty said seeing Myles Webster get sent away for what could be a life sentence "absolutely" brought the incident to a satisfying close.
"I have scars on my body, but in the long run, I'll be back," he said after leaving the courtroom to the cheers of his fellow officers. "I'll be playing hockey, I'll be out chasing the bad guys just like I was on March 21."
Prosecutors say Doherty was chasing Webster on foot that day when the suspect wheeled around and emptied his gun, shattering Doherty's leg and causing serious internal injuries.
Jurors took less than two hours to convict Webster of attempted murder and other crimes, including firing a gun from a car and into an apartment building and trying to steal a woman's car and keys while fleeing the scene of the shooting.
Judge Gillian Abramson said she recognized that the sentence was harsh -- some murderers get less time -- but appropriate given all the lives that were put in danger that day and Webster's significant and escalating criminal history. She said there were no mitigating factors that would warrant a lighter sentence and "overwhelming" reasons why it should be lengthy, including Doherty's position as a police officer.
While morally no one life is worth more than another, all branches of government have long recognized that "if we are to rely on the protective ring that police officers form around society, than someone who causes their injury or death should receive greater punishment," Abramson said.
Doherty, 26, downplayed that in his statement to the judge, saying Webster should face a long sentence to keep him from terrorizing other people.
"If someone's willing to shoot a police officer . . . that person is very capable of trying to take an ordinary citizen's life," he said.
Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin, who requested a sentence of 67 years to life, agreed, saying Webster was completely undeterred by everything the criminal justice system had thrown at him in the past. Webster had served time behind bars for previous gun-related crimes but was still determined to lead a "thug life," Strelzin said, quoting what Webster told a caseworker when he ran away from a halfway house.
"He has left you with only one option, and that is to remove him from free society to protect all of us from him," he said. "Nothing is going to stop him other than locking him up."
Webster, who smiled slightly as the sentence was handed down, didn't testify at his trial or speak at his sentencing. His attorney, Carrie Smith, sought a 20-year to life sentence on the attempted murder conviction and suspended sentences on the others, saying that the prosecution's request amounted to abandoning a young life.
"The sentence the state is asking for is completely throwing away an individual at age 22, without considering the amount of change that can occur, not only as the mind completely forms, but as the decades have their effect on that young man," she said.
"I think New Hampshire is better than that. . . . By giving a lower minimum sentence, along with the maximum of life, New Hampshire would be saying, 'If you meet us halfway . . . you have a chance to reap the benefit of that change, a chance to live as a much older person, some meaningful law-abiding life."
Strelzin urged the judge to reject that argument, noting that state law allows Webster to seek parole someday and that he can also seek a sentence reduction.
Doherty said he hopes to return to the police force by the anniversary of the shooting.