DA’s office seeks to modify sentence in 2021 Evans City shooting
The Butler County District Attorney’s Office contends in a county Common Pleas Court motion that a Grove City woman should have been sentenced to at least 18 months in prison for firing a gun into the ground near a man in 2021 while he was arguing with his neighbors in Evans City.
In a motion to modify the seven-day prison sentence that Brittany L. Young, 39, received Feb. 2 for the July 18, 2021, incident, Assistant District Attorney John Kulzer III asks Judge Timothy McCune to modify the sentence he imposed by applying the deadly weapon enhancement sentencing guidelines.
“The sentence does not fit the crime. We don’t think it’s appropriate,” District Attorney Richard Goldinger said Tuesday.
McCune sentenced Young to concurrently serve seven days to 12 months in the county prison with immediate parole after serving seven days for two felony charges of aggravated assault. The sentence includes 24 months of probation, an unspecified term on house arrest with electronic monitoring, and 150 hours of community service.
He imposed no further penalty for two misdemeanor charges of simple assault and misdemeanor charges of recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.
Young was found guilty of those charges by a jury on Nov. 9, 2022. The jury found her not guilty of a third felony charge of aggravated assault. A second misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment was withdrawn.
In the sentence modification motion Kulzer filed the day of the sentencing hearing, the standard range in sentencing guidelines for the first-degree felony she was charged with has an offense gravity score of 10 and calls for a prison sentence of 22 to 36 months.
With the deadly weapon enhancement, the guidelines call for a sentence of 40 to 54 months, plus or minus 12 months, he said.
In his motion, Kulzer said the imposed sentence is “a vast departure from the recommended guideline enhancement.”
He said the court erred by not applying the enhancement by imposing a sentence in the mitigated range that is lower than the permissible minimum sentence in the sentencing guidelines.
The motion says the court must impose a minimum sentence that can’t be lower than the standard range enhancement, which would be 18 months for the first-degree felony charge.
In addition, the motion says the court cited several mitigating factors at the sentencing hearing. The mitigated sentence for an offense with the same gravity score can be up to 12 months shorter than the lower limit of the standard range.
The basic standard sentencing range for an offense with the same gravity score and the deadly weapon enhancement is 18 months, according to the motion.
Kulzer requested an expedited hearing on the motion to modify the sentence with the application of the deadly weapon enhancement. No hearing was scheduled as of Tuesday afternoon.
At a preliminary hearing shortly after the incident, an Evans City-Seven Fields Regional police officer testified that the victim was arguing with a neighbor over the victim’s dog defecating on the neighbor’s property.
Young was in the area to visit a friend who lived in an apartment in the same building, police said. She parked her vehicle in the building’s lot and was there when the victim and neighbor began arguing, police said.
In the complaint filed against Young, police said she yelled at the victim, telling him to stop yelling because there were children in the area. The victim yelled back at her and walked away.
She then drew a 9 mm pistol from her vehicle and fired one shot that struck the ground about 5 feet from where the victim was standing and tried to rack another round into the semi-automatic handgun, police said.
She still was holding the gun when police arrived, but surrendered and was taken into custody without further incident.
Young told an officer at the scene that she would have kept firing if the gun had not jammed.
Police said the gunshot left a hole in the ground that measured about 3.5 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
Two felony charges of aggravated assault were dismissed at the preliminary hearing, but were reinstated later, and the third charge was added after prosecutors amended the complaint.
Young was being held in the county prison in lieu of $50,00 bail.