Judge wants second look at plea agreement in shooting

Posted: Wednesday, February 05, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Superior Court judge Monday balked at a deal giving a wife killer five years, saying she questioned ''whether or not the sentence is appropriate in light of the facts.''

Judge Stephanie Joannides told both sides to get her more information on defendant Joshua Longley, including an evaluation by a probation officer, so she can decide whether to accept a plea agreement negotiated by prosecutor Sharon Illsley and defense attorney Craig Howard.

Longley, 28, shot his wife, Susan Williams, to death Oct. 8 in the family's trailer as she, their two children, and his live-in girlfriend watched ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer.''

He told police he was changing the scope on a rifle and pulled the trigger, after aiming the gun at his wife, without checking to see if it was loaded.

Longley was charged with two different degrees of recklessly causing a death, manslaughter and second-degree murder. The plea agreement drops the murder charge and requires Longley to plead no contest to manslaughter and accept a five-year sentence, plus three suspended years and 10 years of probation.

Howard said the shooting was an accident and he had to talk Longley into accepting the manslaughter charge. If sentencing is opened up, Longley will probably withdraw from the deal, Howard said.

Joannides postponed accepting Longley's plea after listening to Williams' parents and siblings criticize the deal. The family spoke over the phone from Outside.

''I can't see why her children and her family have to live without her for the rest of their lives and he gets five years,'' said Williams' mother, Delores Jones.

''He didn't make a mistake,'' said Williams' brother, William. ''He knew what he was doing.''

Joannides set another hearing for April 2.

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