The southern Minnesota homeowner who fatally shot a fleeing intruder as the young man and two others drove from the scene near Madelia, Minn., has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and put on probation for two years.
David A. Pettersen, 65, received his punishment Tuesday in Watonwan County District Court for killing Nicolas Embertson, 19, of Madelia, on Jan. 28 after a foiled home invasion. Pettersen pleaded guilty to endangering safety with intentional discharge of a firearm, a felony. In exchange, a second-degree manslaughter charge was dismissed.
Pettersen, a hog farmer who lives a few miles south of Madelia, can serve his jail time, which includes credit for three days under arrest, on work release. He also must perform 100 hours of community service and pay more than $3,000 in fines and fees.
Judge Greg Anderson's sentence stayed a two-year prison term. His probation during those two years includes no alcohol or illicit drug use, and no possession of firearms.
The defense attorney for Pettersen wanted no jail time for his client, contending that he acted in self-defense. Attorney Jim Fleming said Pettersen took the plea deal only to avoid risking a guilty verdict at trial.
"I take no satisfaction from this death, and I will carry that awful responsibility with me for the rest of my life," Pettersen said in court during sentencing. He then buried his head in his hands after reading his statement.
In placing Pettersen's sentence below the 180 days in jail recommended in the pre-sentence investigation, Anderson said he believed the sincerity of the defendant's remorse. Also working in Pettersen's favor was the lack of a criminal record.
"I do not perceive him as a threat to public safety," the judge said. "He acted out of fear and maybe some stupidity."
Embertson's mother, Tracy McCabe, said in her victim-impact statement that Pettersen "consciously took the law into his own hands." McCabe described her life since her son's death as "endless sadness and lifelong hell."
Embertson and Cornelius Ayers, of Madelia, boosted Kyle Nason, of Sleepy Eye, onto a deck in a scheme to scope out the house to break in. The commotion roused Pettersen.
The three teens fled back to the car, and Embertson started driving away. That's when Pettersen squeezed off two or three shots, contending he was aiming for the driver's side front tire but hitting Embertson instead.
Ayers was charged with burglary, convicted and given a 15-day jail sentence, put on probation for five years and fined $1,000. Nason was similarly charged, convicted and given a 45-day jail term, with five years' probation, and fined $1,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.