Friday, April 22, 2011

Man who shot father-in-law to death while stalking estranged wife sentenced to 50 years

A man who shot his father-in-law to death at a mall while gunning for his estranged wife was sentenced to 50 years without parole. Michael James Young Jr, 25, was sentenced in a Lexington County, SC courtroom Monday, April 11 after pleading guilty to murder and assault with intent to kill for the shooting of his estranged wife, then 21 year old Shaunna Bell, and her father, a retired US Air Force officer, 49 year old Robert Lynn Bell, on June 13, 2007 in the Columbiana Center mall parking lot.

Before the deadly shooting four days shy of Father’s Day that year, Bell had called police to report that Young threatened to destroy the kiosk at the mall where she sold computers and told her he didn’t care if she lost her job. He also damaged her parents’ vehicle. She told police at the time that Young was known to carry a snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver.

Her father had been driving Bell to and from work for several weeks in an attempt to keep Young away from his daughter, said Robert Rikard, a Columbia lawyer hired by the family.

The Bells are suing the security company, saying that they did not do enough to protect Shaunna from her husband's stalking. While Young was banned from the mall, the supervisor on duty was not informed of this fact.

Shaunna said in her victim impact statement, "I think about getting married and not having anyone to walk me down the aisle. My father/daughter dance was taken from me. When my mom’s birthday or Mother’s Day comes around, I do not have anyone to secretly call for details of what she has been wanting.”

Young has accepted his responsibility for the mall shooting and has expressed his remorse “innumerable” times, his lawyer, John Delgado, said. “He considers it a life sentence, but he considers it a just sentence for what he did.” Despite Young’s imposing size, his aggression toward women “was his way of being able to assert himself in the world,” Delgado said, saying Young had no self esteem.
“He’s a completely different person now,” the lawyer said.

The 50 year sentence for murder will be served concurrently with the assault with intent to kill. In exchange for the guilty plea, Young saw four stalking charges, and single charges of forgery, telephone harassment, and assault with intent to kill. Judge Thomas Russo was the presiding judge over this case.

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