MINNEAPOLIS - A basketball coach who fired a gun at a parent was sentenced Wednesday to 180 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse over the strong objections of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.
Paul Hill of Minneapolis was also fined $300 after pleading guilty to a count of second degree assault in the incident.
Hill is the father of former Minneapolis South star Tayler Hill, who is now starting at Ohio State.
Judge Daniel Moreno sentenced Hill to 36 months in prison, but stayed the imposition of the sentence for five years. If Hill does not violate his terms of probation, he will spend no time in prison and the felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office calls it a significant departure from the three-year prison term called for by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
On Sept. 29 Hill and Patrick Adams, who knew each other, got into an argument and shoving match at the YWCA at 2121 E. Lake Street.
According to a criminal complaint Hill left but told Adams "I've got something for you." Police say he drove away, retrieved the gun, returned, asked Adam's wife where her husband was and then spotted him in the parking lot.
At that point investigators say Hill drove up and fired a shot from his truck at Adams.
Judge Moreno said in court that too often he has to send young men to prison, especially young men of color, because they have committed violent crimes and they have a criminal record, no employment and little indication that they will turn their lives around.
"Today, I'm faced with a father of seven, who is gainfully employed, who doesn't come here with a record, who has made contributions to the community through his coaching and who has shepherded his children through life's troubled waters," Moreno said. "The easy thing would be to send you to prison. But I am faced with a person with an exemplary life up to this point. I can't ignore that."
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Dan Allard told Moreno that the sentencing guidelines take into account Hill's clean record and there is no compelling reason to deviate from the guidelines.
"This was not a gut reaction," Allard told the judge. "He left the gym, got in his car, drove away, got a gun and came back."
Under questioning from Judge Moreno, Hill finally admitted that the gun he fired was a .22 caliber handgun, not a starter's pistol as he told a probation officer doing the pre-sentence investigation.
Adams expressed anger at the sentence handed down and asked the prosecutor to read his victim impact statement. He said in the statement that his wife and children were "severely affected" by the shooting and one of his sons wanted to get a gun and respond in kind.
"I told my son that I don't believe in guns and it is never okay to take another man's life, regardless of what he has done," Adams continued in his written statement. "I also told him that the law deals with people who decide to commit such egregious acts of violence. If, in fact, you are going to sentence Mr. Hill to work house time and not prison time for his pre-meditated act, how do I justly pound home the fact that any act of violence towards another man is deplorable? How is it we now live in a society where it is okay to resolve problems with guns instead of with words?"
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )