ANGOLA, Ind. — A man convicted of attempted murder for opening fire on vehicles traveling along a northeastern Indiana highway was sentenced to 120 years in prison after telling a judge he would "kind of like to go home."
Donald William Myers III, 35, was sentenced Monday, nine years to the day after the April 29, 2004, shootings terrified motorists along U.S. 20 in far northeastern Indiana.
The Angola man was convicted April 19 on four counts of attempted murder for shooting at motorists and at an Indiana State trooper's patrol car. Myers, who has maintained his innocence since his arrest, told Steuben Circuit Court Judge Allen Wheat he didn't shoot at anyone and that he'd "kind of like to go home."
The Herald Republican reports (http://bit.ly/16hLFDG ) that Myers' mother, Judy Woneker, told Wheat that she had monitored her son's condition closely for much of his life and that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 10 years before the shootings. She asked that the judge to allow her son to be returned home, where she would watch him "24/7."
Myers' case had been on hold due to his mental state, but a forensic psychology board last year found him competent to stand trial. During his trial, Myers told jurors he was a four-star general in the U.S. Marines and a personal friend of former President George W. Bush.
Trooper L. Andrew Smith, whose cruiser was struck during the shootings, urged Wheat to impose the maximum sentence, saying that if Myers were free it would be a matter of "when, not if" he committed another crime.
Smith testified Monday that it's lucky that no one was injured by Myers' gunfire. During the shootings, Myers shot at a car containing a man, woman and child with a 20-gauge shotgun as it was in the parking lot of a mobile home park where he lived.
David Brown told the court the shooting had affected his grandson's ability to trust strangers and feel safe. He asked the judge to "show him the same mercy that he showed all of his victims, which is none."
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Musser said that allowing Myers to go free would be "a roll of the dice as to everybody's physical welfare." Musser and the local probation officials both recommended a sentenced of 30 years on each count with consecutive sentencing on at least three of the charges.
Wheat chose to sentence Myers for each crime consecutively, calling the incident an "egregious crime of violence" giving him 30 years for each of four attempted murder convictions.
Myers has been in mental hospitals most of the time since his arrest. His court-appointed attorney Linda Wagoner said Myers wants to be in the Indiana Department of Corrections instead of the state's mental health division.
But in his sentencing recommendation, Wheat suggested that Myers be returned to a mental health facility, where he will be monitored and receive the appropriate medication. The DOC will screen Myers and make the final determination.