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Anchorage man gets 5 1/2 years for Spenard shooting last summer

Cody Randall Hess, 22, was sentenced Thursday in Anchorage to 5 1/2 years in prison for a shooting in the neighborhood of Spenard last year, the reason for which remains unclear despite the conclusion of the case. Hess was challenged by Spenard homeowner Shane Hatcher, who confronted him about being in the neighborhood uninvited, police said at the time. Hess opened fire on Hatcher, striking him in the torso. District Attorney Clint Campion said that interpretation of the shooting is fair but Hess may have misunderstood the interaction that led up to it. The misunderstanding stems from Hess living with cognitive disabilities, as noted by defense attorney Michael Schwaiger during the hearing. Schwaiger said Hess was angry when he encountered Hatcher because he’d been locked out of his assisted living home.

Hess was taken into custody after the shooting, first reported at about 8:30 p.m. on June 9, 2016, near Wyoming Drive and West 37th Avenue. Responding officers, including a K-9 unit, found Hess, who matched witnesses’ description of the suspect. Hess is believed to have fired a .40 caliber firearm about 10 times, striking Hatcher once, Campion said. Hess told police he had drunk alcohol, but a blood test was not conducted, Campion said. Hatcher did not attend the hearing. Office of Victims’ Rights attorney Katherine Hansen said Hatcher’s life was destroyed by the shooting he worked as a security guard for 15 years and felt he could not continue with that line of work. Hatcher decided Alaska was unsafe and moved, Hansen said.

Campion asked Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey to impose a sentence of six years with two years suspended. He said jail time was appropriate but the focus should be on Hess’ rehabilitation.

“It’s through good luck that we’re not dealing with a homicide,” Campion said. Hess should not have been in possession of a firearm due to his “several developmental disabilities,” Schwaiger said. The defense attorney mentioned fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Hess has no criminal history as an adult, no juvenile criminal history and has not had disciplinary issues while incarcerated, Schwaiger said.

“He generally does well in a structured environment,” he said.

Eloise Joseph, Hess’ adoptive mother, told the judge she became Hess’ foster mom when he was 4, and obtained guardianship by the time he was 8. She said Hess started to act out around 20, hanging out with the wrong crowd. Hess ended up in the assisted living home due to the issues but would come home for the weekend to attend church with the family.

“I’m not making excuses for what he did. I can offer an environment where he can get treatment. I’ll be there for him when he gets out,” Joseph said. Hess struggled to read from a handwritten note when he apologized for his actions and the pain he caused Hatcher and Hatcher’s family.

“I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I’m not a bad person. I just made a bad decision.”

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Former security guard accuses coal business of wrongful termination

WILLIAMSON A former security guard is suing a coal business, alleging wrongful termination in retaliation for seeking workers compensation leave. Ronnie Jordan of Wharncliffe filed the complaint in Mingo Circuit Court against DFM Coal, LLC and Gregory Blairalleging that they violated the Worker’s Compensation Discriminatory Practices Act and West Virginia Human Rights Act. According to the complaint, on June 21, 2016, Jordan was injured while working as a security guard at the defendant’s coal mine in Wharncliffe. The suit says he promptly filed for workers compensation benefits.

The suit says he was denied his compensation claim and he protested to the Office of Judges where a hearing was held in January. After the workers compensation claim was held compensable during the hearing, the lawsuit states, Jordan was terminated Feb. 23. As a result, Jordan says he has he suffered lost wages, benefits and humiliation. The plaintiff alleges the defendants failed to give employees their right to a medical leave, failed to provide a safe working environment to avoid injuries and failed to provide legal reason before terminating an employee. Jordan seeks trial by jury, lost wages, benefits, back pay, front pay, all damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees, court costs and all equitable relief. He is represented by attorney Steve S. Wolfe of Wolfe, White and Associates in Logan.

Mingo Circuit Court Case number 17-C-60

Woman fatally shot after argument between 2 men

A 28-year-old woman was killed early Saturday morning on Detroit s west side after an argument between two men as a club on Detroit s west side ended in gunfire, police said. The shooting took place about 2 a.m. Saturday on the 15700 block of the John C. Lodge service drive, said Sgt. Adam Madera, a Detroit Police Department spokesman. Trouble started with an argument between a man who police say may be a bouncer at the club and another man, who police say was traveling in the same vehicle as the victim. Police say the man exited the vehicle and the altercation with the security guard became physical, with both men firing shots. The car carrying the victim drove away, but the woman was hit. The car stopped at a gas station on Wyoming, and its driver alerted the clerk that the woman had been shot. The clerk called 911.

Medics arrived and took the victim to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Neither of the alleged shooters is under arrest as yet, Madera said, nor is there a description of either man in the early stages of the investigation. According to Michigan State Police figures, in 2015, the most recent numbers available, arguments were the most likely circumstance preceding homicides[1] in Michigan.

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