Judge sentences man to 17 years for shooting girlfriend
By JUSTIN DENNIS
Relatives of 32-year-old Denise Thurston, now in a permanent vegetative state after being shot in the head by her boyfriend Terrance Edmonds in July, said Edmonds’ decision to pull the trigger forever changed the lives of two families.
“If this was a world where things were meant to be right, the sentence would be life, because that’s what you have done to my daughter and our family and yours,” Thurston’s father, Roger Hunt, said in a statement read to the court during Edmonds’ sentencing hearing Wednesday. “God will forgive you, but many more may not.”
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas sentenced Edmonds, 31, to a total of 17 years in prison for shooting the oldest of three sisters and mother of two young children July 21 outside his East Hilton Avenue home. It was the maximum possible sentence.
Responders found Thurston in her vehicle near Edmonds’ home with a single bullet wound to the head, which exposed brain matter. A neurosurgeon testified during trial the injury left Thurston in a vegetative state.
“[Thurston is] alive, but she has no meaningful ability to communicate, to take care of herself, to feed herself, to use the restroom,” county assistant prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin told the court. “The victim is not on the track to recovery. ... She is not going to become a functional person at any point again – absent some complete miracle of modern science.”
Though Edmonds testified he fired the .380-caliber gun out of self-defense – claiming Thurston had been threatening him and shooting outside his home during an argument that day – a jury last week rejected that story and found him guilty on all charges: attempted murder, felonious assault, domestic violence and illegal possession of a weapon.
Edmonds’ attorney Robert Rohrbaugh of Youngstown requested Judge Krichbaum shorten the sentence based on Edmonds’ remorsefulness. Edmonds then directly pleaded with the court.
“I never caused any of this to happen. Someone came to me, firing shots at me,” he said.
“The only gun that was found was the one you used to shoot her,” Judge Krichbaum responded. “You went out to – in your words – ‘defuse the situation’ with your gun. ... It’s clear to me that it’s time you get what you deserve for doing this.”
Edmonds’ violent charges merged during sentencing for a maximum 11-year sentence. Judge Krichbaum sentenced Edmonds to three years each on the charges’ firearm specification and his weapon possession charge.
Court records show Edmonds pleaded guilty to felony domestic violence in 2010 and pleaded no contest to a later misdemeanor charge in 2016. He was still on probation on other charges when he shot Thurston. As a felon, Edmonds is barred from carrying firearms.
Thurston’s younger sister, Carla Hunt, told reporters after the hearing she didn’t know Edmonds, only that his relationship with her sister was “rocky.” She and her sister Kayla sobbed silently throughout the hearing.
“It just didn’t affect me and my family, it affected him and his. She’ll never get better. She’ll end up dying from this,” she said. “What he got was the maximum [sentence] they could give him. Am I satisfied? No. But it’s the most they could give him.”
County prosecutors said they would seek a new murder charge against Edmonds should Thurston die from her injuries.
Edmonds said during his statement he will continue to fight the case.