Father gets jail for shooting daughter's boyfriend in faceBy Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | February 06,2013BRATTLEBORO — A 57-year-old West Townshend man was sentenced to a five- to 15-year prison sentence Tuesday for shooting his daughter's boyfriend in the face as the two men struggled for his loaded handgun.
Edward Tetreault, who was arrested shortly after the Sept. 19, 2011 incident, apologized to his wife, two daughters and his daughter's boyfriend Tuesday, saying he hoped to rebuild his family relationships after he completed his sentence, if they forgave him.
“I'm sorry for what I've done,” Tetreault said during a brief statement, as one of his daughters cried. “I hope to be a better man, a better husband and a better father.”
Tetreault shot William McGuinness, then 25, after McGuinness tackled him as the two men had a disagreement over whether Tetreault had been driving drunk, according to court records. Two days earlier, McGuinness had head-butted Tetreault in a related dispute, giving Tetreault a serious head injury, court records stated.
Judge David Suntag sided with Tetreault's lawyer's request for a five-year minimum sentence; and reminded people that the case could easily have resulted in a far worse tragedy.
Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver had argued for an eight-year minimum, citing the need for punishment. Tetreault had pleaded guilty in November to a single charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and four other related charges were dismissed, as part of a plea agreement.
Both Tetreault's wife, Elizabeth, and his daughter, Michelle, who was in the family's home at the time of the shooting, spoke or had letters read during the sentencing hearing. Both praised Tetreault as a devoted and loving husband and father, whose alcoholism had gotten out of control.
Elizabeth Tetreault said by court order they had not been able to have any contact with Tetreault for the past 16 months, and she said she and their daughters wanted to rebuild their relationship.
“We don't give up on the ones we love,” the daughter wrote, and the mother read.
Suntag, who took a brief recess before imposing the sentence, said it was highly unusual for victims to speak in support of a lesser sentence. The judge also noted that a large group of Tetreault's family, including brothers, a sister, a nephew and their spouses, turned out to support Tetreault.
But the boyfriend, William McGuinness, then 25, did not attend the sentencing, and he was described as “fragile” as he continues to cope with the aftermath of the shooting.
McGuinness was shot in both the shoulder and face, breaking his jaw, and severely damaging the nerves in one arm. Gary Stevens, the probation officer who interviewed him last week, said that physically he seemed to have recovered from his injuries, but he said that McGuinness was dealing with emotional issues associated with the shooting, as well as other issues.
Shriver read parts of McGuinness' earlier deposition, describing the shooting and the severe pain he felt from the shooting.
“I wish the best for the defendant,” probation officer Gary Stevens quoted McGuinness as saying, while adding that he was “scared for Michelle and her mother,” and that he felt jail time was needed.
Under the sentence, Tetreault was given credit for the 16 months he has already served in jail, but the judge said Tetreault would probably serve two more years of “dead time” before he could begin treatment and be released back to the community.
Suntag said he hoped the state Department of Corrections would not send Tetreault out of state during the remainder of his sentence, which would allow Tetreault to begin rebuilding his relationship with his wife and daughters.
Elizabeth Tetreault read a lengthy statement — as well as a letter written by her daughter Michelle — detailing the couple's life together, and praising Tetreault for his calm, non-confrontational and peaceful nature. She said they had met at the University of Vermont while they were freshmen, and maintained their relationship even after she returned to Florida, eventually marrying, having two daughters and building a life in Grafton and Townshend. Her husband supported her when she went through cancer treatment, she told the judge.
Elizabeth Tetreault said she was in favor of an even shorter minimum sentence, saying the sooner her husband started alcohol treatment, the better for her family.
Suntag, noting Tetreault's age and the 15-year maximum sentence, said that Tetreault would be under close supervision for a long time. And he said Tetreault's history of hard work and devotion to his family was an important factor in his sentence.
But the judge warned Tetreault not to blame everything on alcoholism, as the judge noted millions of people drink, but they don't bring a loaded gun into a volatile situation.
“There's more to this,” the judge said. “Go look beyond the alcoholism.”
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