Five months ago, Sarah Godfrey was shot in the leg by a 15-year-old boy who, on a whim, decided to rob a group of people at a house party.
The would-be robbery was foiled when Godfrey and another man chased the boy out of the house and the boy fired shots.
At the time, Godfrey said she wanted Samuel Dunn to be tried as an adult and face a maximum penalty. Now, she’s expressed a change of heart.
“He deserves help,” Godfrey told Judge Robert Lewis Thursday. “A lot of it.”
The judge agreed, sentencing Dunn to spend between about five years and six years, eight months in a juvenile institution. When the dust settles, Dunn will either be released just after his 20th birthday or when he turns 21, depending on how amenable he is to treatment.
Juvenile court does not have jurisdiction over offenders after they turn 21.
Lewis said a juvenile institution is best suited to help Dunn with his Asperger’s syndrome. Still, while the judge acknowledged Dunn’s condition, he said it shouldn’t serve as an excuse.
“For these people, it doesn’t really matter what the reason is” for firing shots, Lewis said, addressing Dunn. “What you did was extremely terrorizing to the people involved and the community.”
Lewis did not decide whether Dunn should be tried as an adult because Judge Edwin Poyfair had already decided this spring that Dunn should be tried as a juvenile.
Dunn pleaded guilty June 29 in juvenile court to first-degree burglary, first-degree attempted robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty to two unrelated counts of residential burglary.
Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith and defense attorney Michael Borge both recommended that Dunn be incarcerated until at least age 20. The judge agreed with the recommendation.
Before sentencing, several people at the party on the night of Feb. 19 addressed the judge about the impact the shooting has had on them and their families. Dunn had been walking by the house on Northeast 38th Street, saw that a party was going on, donned a mask, and entered with a gun and a bag, according to court documents.
Dunn threw the bag on the kitchen floor and told the group to put their wallets in the bag, according to court documents. Then, when he thought they hadn’t heard them, Dunn fired one shot into the wall near the ceiling.
“He came in ready to fire,” Jason Wallace, who was at the party that night, told the judge. “He came ready to kill.”
When Dunn was chased from the house, he fired shots at Godfrey and Corey Bloom, both 22. They were treated at a local hospital.
Michelle Scheneman, who lives at the house where the shooting occurred, said she still lives with the terror of that night and questions whether Dunn really understands the gravity of his actions.
“The lack of remorse on his part makes me ill,” she said.
The family of Dunn also spoke to the judge, offering a much different picture. Dunn’s grandmother, June Dunn, said that as a child, Samuel Dunn never got in trouble. The family only learned of his Asperger’s syndrome upon his arrest and how it affects his perception of his actions on others. Those with Asperger’s generally can’t understand others’ trauma, she said.
“I love this kid. I think he’s a wonderful kid,” she said. “It was an enormous shock to us when it happened.”