After pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in August, an Everett, Washington, man made an unusual request for harsh punishment at his sentencing hearing this week, according to KOMO News.
Jonathan Duncan, 24, was charged with the shooting death of his girlfriend, 19-year-old Payton Beck-Glessner, in December when he says he was playing with a handgun and it discharged.
He reportedly told police after his arrest that he knew very little about guns and had found the one he had that night in a ditch. As the Everett Daily Herald reported, investigators found social media images and other evidence suggesting Duncan had, in fact, previously handled an array of firearms.
His defense attorney sought a more lenient sentence for Duncan, arguing he suffered from disabilities brought on by his mother’s substance abuse during pregnancy.
“Cognitive impairments significantly limited Jonathan’s ability to recognize the riskiness of his behavior when he was handling a loaded gun in the same room as his girlfriend,” lawyer Tiffany Mecca wrote.
The defendant, however, pleaded for the maximum sentence allowed.
“Why should I get out?” he asked the judge. “Because Payton doesn’t get another single breath.”
The judged fulfilled Duncan’s wish, giving him a sentence of more than 12 years in prison.
“The pain that was caused as a result of the recklessness of the defendant is impossible to measure,” said Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Appel acknowledged Duncan likely does have cognitive impairments, but determined he understood the risks associated with handling a loaded firearm.
Duncan’s request fell in line with the desires of Beck-Glessner’s parents to see him locked up for as long as possible. In a letter to the judge, her mother wrote that losing a child “is like losing your breath and never catching it again.”
The victim’s family and friends were in the courtroom for the final decision in the case, including her mother, who stood up and thanked Duncan for taking responsibility for what he had taken from her family.
Duncan, in turn, thanked Appel for granting his request for additional prison time.
[Featured image: Facebook/Payton Beck-Glessner]