A 3rd District Court judge strongly chastised a University of Utah honor student for the "stupid act" of shooting at two women on the freeway and ordered him to serve a year in the Salt Lake County Jail.
But despite the rebuke, the judge's sentence was lighter than the one he gave the man a week earlier.On Jan. 28, Judge David Young sentenced Tom L. Martin, 20, to serve an indeterminate term of zero to 5 years at the Utah State Prison. But in an unusual turnaround, the judge changed his mind and gave Martin a reduced sentence Monday.
Defense attorney Andrew Valdez argued that his client had no prior criminal record and was a student with great promise. Besides attending the U. on a scholarship, he has been accepted to attend Annapolis.
After speaking with attorneys following last week's sentencing, the judge agreed to reconsider sending him to prison. With the reduced sentence, Martin will likely be able to attend Annapolis in the fall of 1991.
"Two years ago, you were the pride and joy of your family and your community. A year later, you're in the Salt Lake County Jail for a very stupid act . . ." Young said Monday .
The judge said the two victims have suffered nightmares and "absolute horrifying fright" from the shooting incident. "They could have been maimed, killed or horribly injured," he said. "You were lucky that somebody didn't get hurt worse than they did."
Martin was originally charged with two counts of second-degree attempted murder for shooting at a car driving on I-15 near 5300 South on May 17, 1990. Martin pulled up directly behind the women's car and shined his high beam lights into their rear window after they apparently cut him off. He then continued to tailgate them as they changed lanes.
Court documents further state that as the women exited the freeway, one of them "flipped a single finger gesture" at Martin. They then felt something strike their vehicle and felt debris hit their legs.
"The bullet hit the car door and hit the window crank mechanism, which deflected it enough to put it in the dashboard instead of the girls," said deputy county attorney Howard Lemcke.
Martin later admitted he fired at the vehicle with a 9 mm automatic and pleaded guilty to two reduced counts of aggravated assault as part of a plea bargain.
"He may be a terrific student; however, this does not immunize him from responsibilities of society," Lemcke said.
Valdez said if Martin had been sent to prison, he would not have been able to receive treatment and counseling he could receive if he's kept at the county jail. "The judge felt his prognosis for treatment was very good," he said.
Young also sentenced Martin to 36 months probation and ordered him to pay restitution to the victims. He warned the defendant that he would likely send him to prison if he violated his probation.