Vint gets 8-plus years for near-fatal shooting in EdwardsburgPublished 12:26pm Friday, September 21, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — A maximum penalty for maximum damage caused.
That’s what the family of Edwardsburg shooting victim Trevor Claire was asking for. That’s what they got.
Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge sentenced Kevin Vint Friday to eight years and eight months in prison for charges resulting from the near-fatal shooting of Claire in a heated pole barn in Edwardsburg Jan. 22.
The prosecution tried Vint, of Elkhart, for attempted murder, but a jury found him guilty of a lesser charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder on Aug. 2.
Dodge was judge in Vint’s trial and said Friday he was surprised with the jury’s decision, which lowered Vint’s potential punishment from a life-maximum penalty to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
“You were very fortunate to be acquitted of the capital offense of assault with intent to murder because your conduct on this occasion certainly warranted such a conviction,” Dodge said.
Sentencing guidelines calculated for Vint on the principal charge of assault to do great bodily harm less than murder were 29 to 57 months in prison. Dodge sentenced Vint to 80 months on the principal charge, well above the guideline range. He cited several reasons for doing so, including comments made by Claire’s family and the extreme physical and psychological damage inflicted on the victim.
A doctor testified during trial that Claire had a one-percent chance of surviving the shooting.
Claire was shot twice at close range, once in the chest and once in the leg. As a result, Claire lost a kidney, was left with a bullet lodged in his spine and sustained damage to his liver, arteries and remaining kidney. Dodge said Claire has racked up more than $3 million in hospital bills so far.
“His survival is riddled with major surgeries and a constant challenge to survive,” Dodge said. “Nine months after (the incident) he is still unable to eat and is fed through a tube. The quality of his future life has been substantially diminished.”
Kevin Claire, Trevor’s uncle, spoke Friday on behalf of Trevor’s family and of Trevor, who couldn’t be at the sentencing hearing due to health issues. He said the shooting has had a tremendous negative impact on Trevor’s family and friends and asked the court to let the punishment fit the crime.
“The bodily harm done was the maximum amount it could possibly be without resulting in death,” Kevin Claire said. “A maximum crime deserves a maximum sentence, maximum prison time and maximum monetary punishment. That is all we are requesting.”
Prior to being sentenced, Vint apologized briefly to Trevor’s family.
“I know you guys will never forgive me, but I am sorry,” he said. “I messed up. I should never have approached Trevor … I should’ve just turned around. I messed up.”
Vint was also sentenced to two years on a felony firearm count. The sentence will be served prior to his 80-month sentence, bringing total prison time to eight years and eight months. He gets credit for 244 days served.