Judge finds mark in shooting case
Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn rejected a plea agreement that would have given probation to a man who fired four times into a home, hitting five people.
The judge, we think, is on the mark in his finding.
To be sure, the case isn’t a slam dunk. Though no one disputes that the shots were fired by 21-year-old Joshua Anton, the prosecution earlier this month acknowledged difficulties in contacting victims of the shooting so they might be heard at sentencing. We can appreciate that winning their cooperation for a trial might be difficult.
We also can appreciate that even cooperative victims and witnesses might offer somewhat confused versions of what happened at 2984 Krista St. in Fruitvale last December, given the alcohol-fueled nature of the party into which shots were fired.
And we’re aware that Anton is offering a claim of self-defense.
Judge Flynn is right to conduct a hearing on Anton’s self-defense motion next month.
Certainly no plea should be considered before the judge can rule on whether a claim of self-defense can be offered to a jury.
Above all, though, Flynn is correct to observe that a proposed sentence that would let Anton escape any threat of prison time simply flies in the face of the purposes of sentencing.
Under the plea deal, Anton could not be even required to serve weekend detention or be monitored electronically, Flynn noted.
In pleading guilty earlier this month, Anton told the court he believed he was guilty of felony menacing and only that.
We think that woefully understates the gravity of Anton’s actions.
If he wants to convince us otherwise, Anton is welcome to try, in open court, where the prosecution can, pardon the term, fire back.