ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man who shot his wife to death but claimed it was an accident was sentenced to five years in prison Friday.
Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides accepted a plea bargain by Joshua Longley and sentenced him to five years in prison for manslaughter in the shooting death of his wife.
Longley, 28, said he thought the rifle he aimed and fired at his wife, Susan Williams, in their trailer Oct. 8 was not loaded. The couple's two children and Longley's girlfriend were present at the time, watching television.
Longley said he was changing the scope on the gun.
Prosecutors accepted that the shooting was not intentional but labeled it extremely reckless, not a true accident. They charged Longley with both manslaughter and second-degree murder.
In a negotiated agreement between the prosecution and defense, the murder charge was dropped and Longley agreed to plead to manslaughter and serve a sentence of eight years with three suspended, plus 10 years probation after his release.
At a court hearing in February, Williams' family, speaking by phone from Outside, asked Judge Joannides to reject the sentence as too lenient. Joannides said the five-year term also bothered her and invited prosecutor Sharon Illsley and defense attorney Craig Howard to defend the deal.
Illsley on Friday called the charge and sentence ''extremely serious'' and appropriate given the facts the state believes it could prove if it went to trial.
Howard said the sentence was standard for a first offender. He said he understood the family's desire for vengeance, but courts are meant to look beyond such emotions. If the case goes to trial, manslaughter is still the most likely verdict, he said, and Longley's 7-year-old son would have to testify against the father he loves. Longley has no criminal record, he said.
Longley will have to serve two-thirds of the five years before he is eligible for good-time release.
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