ELKO — In a five-page letter, the mother of shooting victim Casey Jo Tervort said her daughter’s death altered her view of the criminal justice system and questioned her faith in humanity.
Defendant Matthew Michael Deacon, 23, was sentenced Friday to serve a maximum four years in prison for shooting Tervort June 15.
Before the sentencing, mother of the victim Melinda Dodd told District Judge Al Kacin she thought anything less than the maximum sentence for Deacon would be “adding insult to injury.”
Deacon shot Tervort with a shotgun from the doorway of his trailer. He was arrested for murder and in late March stood trial. A jury found him guilty of the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter, however.
Defense attorney David Lockie argued at trial that his client looked out from his home with a gun because the victim was banging on the door at night. Deacon was in the process of setting down the 12-gauge shotgun, Lockie said, when he accidentally squeezed the trigger.
Tervort and Deacon had been dating but weren’t around the time of her death.
Dodd believed the jury’s verdict in the case was wrong, she said.
Lockie acknowledged Dodd’s pain and said the court should too when meting out a punishment. He disagreed, however, that the judge should consider her opinion that the verdict was erroneous. Had the jury decided Deacon was guilty of first-degree murder, the judge likely wouldn’t allow the defendant’s opinion that the verdict was wrong impact his decision.
“As a matter of fundamental fairness, it needs to work the other way as well,” Lockie said.
The defense sided with a recommendation made by parole and probation to sentence Deacon to three years in prison with parole eligibility after 12 months.
“Matthew Deacon respects that recommendation. He is not here before this court asking the court to place him on probation because he will admit ... to the court that he knows what happened was not right,” Lockie said.
District Attorney Mark Torvinen asked Kacin to sentence Deacon to serve four years in prison. He said Deacon’s decision to point a loaded gun at a human being aggravated the crime.
In the letter, Dodd said she grieved daily for her daughter, as did all those close to Tervort.
“You always think, ‘I couldn’t go on living if I lost one of my children,’ and then it happens and you have no choice,” she read. “You have to get up every morning. You have to go to work. You have to take care of your responsibilities and you have to get through each day regardless of how much pain it causes just to breathe.”
“I am angry and I am full of hate,” she read. “I’m bleeding from the inside out. I am dead without dying. I sleep all the time or I don’t sleep at all. I have to force myself to get out of bed to go to work, to go to the store, to pay bills. I have to force myself to participate in my own life. Try living this life with some kind of dignity when all you want to do is scream.”
Kacin agreed that Dodd’s comments were wrenchingly sad and heartfelt. He added he could “feel her pain oozing out in the courtroom.”
“Casey was a young woman and she didn’t lose her life — her life was taken from her by Mr. Deacon,” Kacin said.
Deacon told the court he was sorry for killing Tervort, he wished he could bring her back, and that he hoped she was “up in heaven in the good Lord’s hands.”
Deacon was also ordered to pay $3,406.50 restitution for funeral costs. His sentence allows for parole eligibility after 19 months. He was given credit for 343 days served.