Mills Sentenced to 63 - 126 months in State Prison in Stabbing Case
LOCK HAVEN - Shawn M. Mills, of Meme Lane, North Bend, was sentenced Tuesday to 5 years, 3 months to 10 years, 6 months in a State Correctional Institution for the 2020 Stabbing of another man in the parking lot of the Green Lantern bar in Noyes Township. Visiting Senior Judge David Klementik of Somerset County imposed the sentence after brief presentations from both the prosecution and defense.
In February, Mills was found guilty by a unanimous 12 member jury of Felony 1 Aggravated Assault - Causing Serious Bodily Injury, Felony 2 Aggravated Assault - Causing Bodily Injury With a Deadly Weapon, and Misdemeanor 1 Firearms Not to be Carried Without a License. During the course of the 2-day trial, the Commonwealth was represented by ADA Edward Ferguson. Due to a scheduling conflict, DA Dave Strouse appeared for sentencing for the Commonwealth at Tuesday's sentencing.
Strouse first called the victim to address the Court. He informed the Court that he had recently undergone yet another surgery to repair damage done by the 17 stab wounds inflicted to his leg by Mills. He described how he had to re-learn how to walk. He lost his career, his pension, and his ability to live a normal life. He also outlined how he had previously suffered injuries to the same limb during his military service, which further complicated his medical situation.
Strouse asked the Court to impose a 75 month minimum sentence, saying that Mills' recitation of the incident showed no sense of responsibility, and he continues to just blame the jury and attempt to re-litigate his case.
In response, defense attorney Jeff Yates called Mills' sister, Linda Kelly as a witness. Kelly read from a lengthy prepared statement which outlined what she called were all of the inconsistencies of the witnesses and evidence at her brother's trial. She described her dissatisfaction that several items and statements had not been properly presented or considered by the jury, and her disbelief that several of the Commonwealth's witnesses were not arrested for their roles in the incident. Kelly told Klementik that her family follows the law. They don't break the law, and cited to the fact that she herself is an elected official, a township supervisor, and her brother Frank Mills is an elected Magisterial District Judge. Kelly said her brother is not the monster he was depicted by the Commonwealth and witnesses to be.
Mills himself also made a statement to the Court. He expressed his sympathy to the victim, and said he never intended to hurt anyone. He apologized to the Court, and he told Klementik that he had great respect for the justice system and was willing to accept any sentence he saw fit to impose.
As Klementik announced his sentence, he told Mills that this sentence, and his acts, would be life-changing to him. But, Klementik followed, " you must, you need to appreciate that your actions were absolutely life-changing to the victim." Klementik also re-inforced that the evidence at trial showed that Mills had no reason to put himself in the situation he was in, no reason to use a deadly weapon on another person, and had no reason to unlawfully possess a firearm in the process.
The two-day trial saw the Commonwealth call 6 civilian eyewitnesses and 2 State Troopers testify. Eyewitnesses painted a picture of Mills as being in a highly intoxicated state in the parking lot of the Green Lantern. They described Mills has being physically and verbally aggressive with a woman, believed to be his girlfriend, in the parking lot. A man attempted to intervene in the parking lot and he was struck by Mills and knocked to the ground. Witnesses saw Mills in the parking lot attempting to gouge the man's eyes with his thumbs, and ran to the man's aid to get Mills to stop. What followed was a series of physical attacks from Mills against several of the witnesses who testified. Eventually, one of the men that Mills tried to fight, knocked Mills to the ground by punching him in the face. That's when the victim, an on-looker, approached Mills asking him to leave and to stop fighting. Mills then pulled out a folding 6-inch blade from his pocket and stabbed the victim 17 times according to medical records. The witnesses were consistent in their testimony that the victim was never involved in any fight and had no confrontation with Mills.
The victim testified at length at trial. He suffered major injuries primarily to the lower body and has permanent damage to his leg that caused the victim to limp noticeably in and out of the courtroom. The victim suffered extensive blood loss due to the stabbing, and injuries were considered life-threatening.
Witnesses reported that Mills then fled the parking lot in his own vehicle, driving East on SR 120. The victim was quickly loaded into a car and driven to Bucktail Medical Center. Witness reported that Mills then pulled into nearby Brewery Run, turned around, and then returned to the Green Lantern. When Mills returned, witnesses testified that Mills fired several shots from a firearm and circled the parking lot. Witnesses were unable to determine where the shots were directed, but no additional injuries were reported. Mills then fled again.
Ferguson produced a photograph for the jury that was taken shortly after the incident. The picture was a "selfie" apparently taken by Mills and circulated to several people that night, and it showed Mills smiling giving a "thumbs-up."
Arresting Trooper Damon Braniff, with the Pennsylvania State Police, testified that Mills was quickly identified as the person who had stabbed the victim. Police obtained a search warrant and a search of Mills' vehicle and residence on Meme Lane in North Bend produced a folding 6-inch knife and a handgun with ammunition that matched spent shell casings from the Green Lantern parking lot. DNA testing on the knife also connected it to the victim.
Mills took the stand in his own defense and claimed that he didn't recall stabbing the victim, and denied firing a gun. Mills claimed that he was attacked and in fear of his own life, and any action he took was in self-defense. Mills claimed that the entire case was a fabrication against him.