Pa. man sentenced to five years in prison for shooting neighbor in Blue Ridge Summit

April 07, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Harrigan

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., man convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the May 2010 shooting death of his neighbor was sentenced Thursday in Franklin County (Pa.) Court to five years in state prison.

Judge Douglas Herman gave Michael Harrigan, 30, credit for time served in jail since Harrigan shot 47-year-old Steven Wetzel on Blue Ridge Avenue on May 27, 2010. The two had argued earlier in the night, and Harrigan's defense claimed he acted in self-defense.

Wetzel's son, Nathan, told the judge Thursday that he didn't care what sentence Harrigan received, because nothing would change what happened.

"Honestly, I don't care what he gets. ... No matter what he gets, it's not going to bring my father back," Nathan Wetzel said.

Steven Wetzel's sister, Karen Casanova, said Harrigan should serve time for pulling the trigger when he shouldn't have.

"I loved (my brother). I miss him bad. I know he had faults, but don't we all?" she asked.

Harrigan was charged with criminal homicide, an umbrella charge with several possible verdicts, including first-degree murder. Nathan Wetzel said he didn't agree with the jury's verdict. He also said Harrigan should have gone inside, locked the doors and windows, and called police.

Harrigan and his wife, Marta, had called 911 earlier in the night during a verbal dispute with Steven Wetzel. Washington Township, Pa., police talked to both parties but did not file criminal charges.

Marta Harrigan told the judge her husband is a "compassionate, caring man" who relishes being a father to their daughter.

And Harrigan's parents and former comrades from the U.S. Marines described him as someone with a strong belief he should protect others.

"I only sought to be a guardian angel for my family that night. ... I have to live the rest of my life with the weight of my actions on my shoulders," Harrigan said.

Some of Harrigan's family asked for him to be released on time served, while some of Wetzel's family asked for the maximum punishment. The judge reminded those gathered he was bound by mandatory minimum sentences set by the legislature.

"I have to follow the law," Herman said.

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