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Judge gives man extra prison time, despite plea deal



Published: Fri, September 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Judge Cronin issued a 17-year sentence for Donald Mulholland instead of the suggested nine years.

By ROGER G. SMITH

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Judge Maureen A. Cronin couldn't agree with the suggested plea deal, considering a stray bullet was shot through the house of an innocent neighbor.

Instead, Judge Cronin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentenced Donald L. Mulholland, 20, of Austintown, to nearly twice as much prison time as his deal called for.

Judge Cronin sentenced Mulholland to 17 years in prison Thursday. He also received five years parole after his release.

Prosecutors were recommending nine years in prison in exchange for Mulholland's slew of guilty pleas in three cases. One case included an attempted murder charge.

He had faced up to 41 years.

What prosecutors sought

Prosecutors had offered 15 years on all the charges. They went lower, however, when Mulholland offered to cooperate in two other cases, said Martin P. Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor. Mulholland agreed to testify in cases involving Forrest A. Rupp and Frank A. Howely. Each helped now deceased cop killer Martin Koliser briefly escape town in 2003. The two have been in other legal trouble since.

In the main case, Mulholland pleaded guilty to attempted murder, improper discharge of a firearm into a habitation, illegal gun possession and unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance.

Police say that in July 2004, Mulholland went to a house on South Edgehill Avenue in Austintown and fired shots from a car, but missed. The owner of a nearby South Roanoke Avenue home found a bullet in a kitchen cabinet, police said.

Police stopped Mulholland on Mahoning Avenue and found a modified .22-caliber rifle on the sidewalk nearby, which they said he threw from the car.

Cronin's reason for tacking on more time

Judge Cronin said the recommended penalty wasn't enough. Mulholland threatened the safety of innocent people with his gunplay, she said, so she added several years.

He received three years for attempted murder, five years for shooting into the house and five years on gun specifications.

Judge Cronin also expressed concern about Mulholland's criminal history and that he did the shooting shortly after doing prison time on other charges.

Mulholland had a significant juvenile record, it was revealed in court. He also has had legal trouble, including a stint in prison, after he became an adult.

Martin E. Yavorcik, the defense lawyer, asked the judge for mercy and to stick with the suggested sentence. He acknowledged his client has a deep criminal past. But Yavorcik said the man is young, immature and acts impulsively. Mulholland wanted only to scare the subject, not kill, Yavorcik said.

Mulholland's mother, Lisa Vantell, told Judge Cronin her son was sexually abused as a child, which led to drug and other legal problems. Her son fired shots at people who he thought were threatening the safety of his now 20-month-old baby, she said.

Judge Cronin, however, said Mulholland's motive for the shooting came from selfish, jealous rage and he showed no remorse.

In a second case, Mulholland received three years for a guilty plea to a 2003 house burglary.

In a third case, he received a year in prison for guilty pleas for breaking and entering, vandalism and receiving stolen property. The charges stemmed from a break-in at car wash and stolen checks from the business and a pizza shop.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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