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Court upholds sentence following threat to school

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A father who was upset that he couldn’t talk to his daughter after she was arrested at school for having drugs threatened to come to the school with his “guns blaring.” He was arrested and given a suspended sentence for Class D felony intimidation, which the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

Gabriel Sharkey told the officer who arrested his daughter that he would come to school with his guns, that he has a 12 gauge and that “I’ll come down and I’ll let everybody have it.” The high school was put on lock down as a result of his threat. Sharkey was charged with Class D felony intimidation and Class A misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor but pleaded just to the intimidation charge.

The plea agreement capped his maximum sentence at 18 months and allowed him to argue his conviction should be entered as a Class A misdemeanor. The trial judge declined to enter the conviction as a misdemeanor, however, after reading a letter from the arresting officer about Sharkey’s threat. His comments to the officer came near the time last year that several police officers were shot in the United States. The trial judge also noted that Sharkey initially denied he made the threat and later denied it was a specific threat to the arresting officer.

Sharkey argued on appeal that the trial court’s consideration of only one aggravator – that the harm caused was greater than that necessary to prove the commission of the offense – was offered without any evidence. In Gabriel J. Sharkey v. State of Indiana, No. 84A04-1110-CR-550, the appellate court concluded it was a proper aggravator.

“In finding this aggravator, the trial court relied on the letter of the arresting officer which described the effects Sharkey’s threats had on himself and on the school community. The letter detailed the enormous safety concerns triggered by Sharkey’s vivid threat of blazing guns onto the school community at large. This was a concern that not only affected the victim of the intimidation but spilled over to eighteen hundred high school students and hundreds of faculty members,” wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

The COA also found the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in not finding any mitigators and that his character and nature of the crime support the 18-month suspended sentence.

 

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