Before a judge sentenced a man for involuntary manslaughter, she sympathized with his longtime battle with addiction and said the state doesn't offer enough help for people like him.
Dale Thomas Newhouse, 56, of Sissonville was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in the shooting death of James "Jamie" Bryan Shaffer in 2012.
"I don't have a place to place you where I believe you can get the treatment that has been recommended," Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey said, before handing down the sentence.
The charge Newhouse pleaded guilty to in October carried a 3 to 15 year possible sentence. Bailey previously held off on sentencing Newhouse until he underwent a psychological evaluation.
"I did not mean to kill Jamie Shaffer ... I did not mean to kill him," Newhouse told the judge. "I remember every bit of it."
According to police, Shaffer called 911 at about 1 a.m. to report that Newhouse had shot him. Shaffer told an emergency dispatcher that Newhouse was standing over him with a 9-mm handgun.
Newhouse was standing outside waiting for deputies when they arrived on the scene, while Shaffer was inside with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, deputies said. Shaffer was taken to CAMC General Hospital and later died.
Assistant Kanawha Prosecutor Drummond previously told the judge much of the case relied on the testimony of Shaffer's girlfriend, Christina Burgess, who was at the home during the shooting.
Burgess told police she and Shaffer had been staying with Newhouse, who she said drank almost every day until he passed out.
About three months before Shaffer's death, Shaffer's half-brother, Joshua Snyder, had attacked Newhouse and left him in a coma with a brain injury, according to Bill Forbes, Newhouse's attorney.
Forbes asked the judge to give Newhouse a sentence around five years and said he had been trying to defend himself the night of the shooting.
"There was a history of fights between the two," Forbes said.
Newhouse was previously arrested and charged with malicious wounding in the shooting of a woman in December 2008, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
That charge was later dismissed for lack of evidence, according to court records.
Newhouse "really hasn't accomplished much or done much with his life except drinking," Drummond said and asked Bailey to give him the maximum sentence. "He's going to find himself back in trouble if he doesn't get some type of treatment whether here or in prison."
Bailey said the psychological evaluation showed that while Newhouse was in the Army he developed a heroin addiction. He also struggles with alcoholism and would be unlikely to maintain sobriety without intensive therapy, according to the evaluation.
"I hear what you're saying about you didn't mean to kill someone, but you did kill someone," Bailey said. "That's a fact."
She gave him credit for the 496 days he has already served in jail.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.