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72-year-old gets 3 years in jail for killing intruder
72-year-old Wallace G. Finlay of Port Orchard pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges at Kitsap County Superior Court, and he received a 39 month prison sentence on Monday.
Finlay accepted a plea bargain for shooting to death 22-year-old Donald Axthelm near the South Park Greens apartment complex on May 8.
Pat and Paul Kunzl, Axthelm’s parents, said that they were more concerned about their son’s name being cleared than seeing Finlay punished harshly.
“The man doesn’t need a punishment. He needs help,” said Paul Kunzl. “He’s a 72-year-old, paranoid, angry man that needs help.”
Pat Kunzl said, “My voice says I’m going to pray for the man, and my heart’s going to be following.
“I don’t want to get bitter,” she said. “If I don’t pray for him, I could — especially on days like Christmas, when we won’t see him.”
Finlay, who had no previous criminal history, was the only eyewitness.
He claimed that he thought Axthelm planned to burglarize his apartment. He said he confronted Axthelm and then shot him in the back as he ran away.
Finlay reported hearing someone in his apartment at 3:30 a.m., and went from his bedroom to the hallway and found a white man there he didn’t know.
Finlay said he grabbed the man and asked him, “What are you doing in my apartment and what do you want?”
“Please don’t shoot me,” Axthelm allegedly said. “I have a daughter.”
Then Axthelm allegedly ran away from the apartment and Finlay shot him several times in the legs and torso.
Finlay said he had only planned to wound the intruder, call the police and see that they arrested the would-be robber.
But Axthelm was dead by the time police arrived.
A medical examiner determined was shot in the back.
Axthelm had an infant daughter named Jocelyn and lived in the same apartment complex as Finlay at the time of the shooting.
Axthelm was also intoxicated when he was shot, according to court documents, and his parents said they wished more had been done to prove that their son hadn’t intended to hurt Finlay or rob his apartment but that he was there accidentally.
Finlay’s nearly three-year prison sentence leans toward the long end of the 33 to 39 month standard range for crimes of that level of seriousness.
The maximum term is 10 years.
“It’s not going to bring our son back,” Pat Kunzl said. “We do wish that things had come out a little clearer and we could have proved he wasn’t in the house.