ITHACA, N.Y. — A man convicted of shooting another man in the leg at the West Village Apartments last summer was sentenced to 13 years in prison Thursday.
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In December, a Tompkins jury found James “Pip” Marshall guilty of first-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
In court Thursday, Marshall again denied that he had possession of the gun and says he was not the shooter on June 27, 2015.
Ithaca City Court Judge Scott Miller said, “This jury believed that you are the one who unlawfully possessed a loaded firearm.”
Miller said he considered various factors before determining the sentence, including the fact that officials confirmed Marshall did not have many opportunities growing up and that he did not seemingly intend to get into an altercation the night of the shooting. But Miller also said he had to consider Mashall’s previous felony convictions and that the defendant did not take responsibility for the shooting, which left the victim having to undergo physical therapy and causes him to walk with a slight limp.
“This court has compassion for everything I’ve reviewed,” Miller said, noting that Ithaca is a city with strong and active support for alternatives to incarceration. “Our great compassion (however) cannot leave our innocent children vulnerable to being shot.”
He sentenced Marshall to the minimum required sentence of 10 years for the assault, 13 years each for the two second-degree criminal possession of a weapon charges, and two to four years for third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The sentences will run concurrently.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bonavia requested a 20-year sentence for the assault charge. The sentencing range on the charge was 10 to 25 years because Marshall is a predicate violent felon.
The victim in the case asked for the “maximum sentence” during a brief, written victim impact statement.
During the trial, the following two stories were told about the night of the shooting:
Marshall was at a woman’s apartment the morning of the incident when her Earl Brooks showed up wanting to go inside.
There is some debate about whether Brooks and the woman were still in a relationship with each other — Brooks said he was.
The woman denied Brooks entry to the apartment hoping to prevent a confrontation between the two men. Brooks then paced around outside her apartment — at one point allegedly trying to break into the home through a window — for nearly two hours.
In response to Brook’s behavior, Marshall called two men — on them was his brother — to go to the apartment, allegedly so he could walk out the door without having a dangerous confrontation with Brooks.
At some point, the woman opens the door to speak to Brooks and the two men end up face-to-face, according to surveillance video shown in court.
Brooks then throws a punch at Marshall and tackles him through the door frame of the apartment — this is where the stories greatly differed.
Brooks testified that he only attacked Marshall because he saw the man reach for his waistline.
“I believed it was a gun,” Brooks said during testimony.
He says that he tackled Marshall, was shot in the leg and did his best to hold Marshall down because the man had a gun. At some point, Brooks’ strength buckled from the pain of his injury and he rolled off Marshall.
“I knew I was hit, but I didn’t know where,” Brooks said.
Marshall countered that story with his own version where he said Brooks lunged at him while holding a gun, but says he was able to swat the gun in Brooks’ hand downward and the man shot himself in the leg. The gun, Marshall said, then fell to the floor and was likely kicked into the kitchen where the men fought over it before Brooks rolled off of him.
Marshall then fled the apartment. He was found at a relative’s home in Brooklyn on Sept. 3, 2015 and taken into police custody by U.S. Marshals.
Update: This story has been updated with additional information as of 5:25 p.m.
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