Man pleads, is sentenced for shooting his girlfriend


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Judge Anthony D’Apolito told James Sunderman he has at least a year to work on setting the examples his son and daughter must follow.

The judge said Sunderman, who pleaded guilty in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and was sentenced to at least a year in prison for shooting his girlfriend and the children’s mother, has to show his son how to treat women and show his daughter that a normal relationship does not consist of abuse.

“You’re setting an example. You’re setting a bad one so far,” Judge D’Apolito said Monday. “You can change that. But it will take some effort.”

Sunderman, 31, pleaded guilty to a charge of felonious assault and was sentenced to three years in prison and an additional year for a firearm specification.

The terms of his plea agreement under the sentence for the firearm specification specifies Sunderman will get credit for the six months he has served in the Mahoning County jail awaiting the disposition of his case, then serve the remaining six months for the firearm specification before the sentence for the felonious assault starts.

He can apply for judicial release after he has served the first six months of the assault term.

Reports said police were called to Sunderman’s home Nov. 6 and found his girlfriend bleeding from a wound to the thigh from a .12-gauge shotgun.

The woman told police she had shot herself, but later at the hospital, the woman and her mother told police Sunderman forced the victim to say she shot herself, reports said.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin said one of the reasons for the plea and sentence was because the victim in the case did not want Sunderman to be severely punished.

Terry Grenga, Sunderman’s attorney, said her client has never been in trouble before. She said the sentence calls for at least a year in prison on top of the six months he already is serving, so he will be serving time for his actions.

Sunderman will be on probation for three years after he gets out of prison.

Judge D’Apolito asked Sunderman about his plans for the future.

“I don’t want to be back here, sir,” Sunderman said.

Judge D’Apolito said Sunderman needs to think of how he can better react to situations in the future so he does not set a bad example for his children.

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