LIMA — A Lima man who police officers said pointed a loaded handgun at the head of another man, pulled the trigger … and missed … was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison.
Ariyous Conley, 20, appeared before Judge David Cheney of Allen County Common Pleas Court for sentencing on a charge of felonious assault, a second-degree felony that included the specification that a firearm was used in the execution of the crime.
Cheney sentenced Conley to four years in prison on the assault charge and a mandatory one-year term for the gun specification. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively.
Conley was indicted in February on charges of felonious assault and attempted murder. Under the terms of a plea deal with prosecutors, the defendant in September agreed to plead guilty to the felonious assault charge in exchange for the state’s dismissal of the attempted murder charge.
According to court documents, Conley on Jan. 4 went to pick up his daughter from a home in the 1600 block of Union Street where the girl’s mother resided. At that location he reportedly got into a verbal altercation with Lima resident Devin Culverson. The men started to argue and Culverson reportedly initiated a physical encounter. At that time, police said, Conley pointed a .40 caliber handgun at Culverson’s head at close range and fired, missing his intended target. Conley then fled from the scene.
Both the defendant and his attorney asked Cheney for leniency. Conley apologized to his family and the family of the victim for making a poor choice on the day in question.
“I’m not a bad guy, your honor. I understand what I did. I shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place, but I didn’t go looking for trouble,” Conley told Cheney. “I didn’t try to kill anybody. I didn’t point the gun at his head.”
Defense Attorney Kenneth Rexford said to this day does not believe his client intended to harm Culverson. “It’s hard for me to believe that in such close proximity to the victim that he could miss him unless it was intentional,” Rexford told the judge.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Terri Kohlreiser said the state was offering no recommendation on the sentence to be imposed, but stressed that gun crimes are taken seriously by local officials.
“It’s important to note that the defendant was in his car and chose to get out and confront the victim,” Kohlreiser said. “It’s so important for people to realize that reacting to a situation by shooting a weapon can leave a lot of lives utterly destroyed. Guns are not the answer.”
Cheney was unmoved by Conley’s apology and angrily stressed the seriousness of the situation and said the defendant’s decision to use a weapon was a poor choice.
“Do you really believe you handled the situation the best you could have?” the judge asked. “You would have been best served by simply walking away.”
More than a dozen members of Conley’s family were in the courtroom Wednesday and an audible gasp could be heard when Cheney handed down a sentence that apparently was unexpected.