Shooter sentenced to 10 years in homicide
WOODSTOCK – All Harry Grant Nelson III wanted to do when he arrived at the home of Daniel Scott Harvey on March 31, 2014, was help a friend retrieve a cell phone.
A few moments later, Nelson, 36, lay on the ground next to a pickup truck, mortally wounded by a blast to the stomach from a single-barrel shotgun fired by Harvey.
Nelson had tried to intervene in a dispute between Alicia Macsorley, the woman whom he had accompanied to the residence at 600 Stephens Lane in Fort Valley, and Harvey. Harvey had broken into a locked gun cabinet in his parents’ home when Macsorley appeared inside the residence to pick up her cell phone.
Their argument moved outside where Harvey first pointed the gun at Macsorley and then fired the fatal shot at Nelson from about 20 feet away.
Nelson was taken to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:12 p.m., less than an hour after the shooting was reported to sheriff’s deputies.
Nelson had held a cell phone that he used to videotape Harvey brandishing the shotgun in the moments leading up to the shooting. Deputies recovered the cell phone and its video footage at the scene.
On Wednesday, Shenandoah County Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp peered over a laptop screen and watched the shooting of Nelson unfold, part of the evidence provided by Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley at Harvey’s sentencing hearing.
A half hour later, Hupp sentenced Harvey, 34, to 10 years in prison on voluntary manslaughter, the maximum allowed under state law and the same as Wiseley’s recommendation. Hupp also tacked on a suspended sentence of three years that will be served if Harvey violates conditions imposed on him by the state’s parole board after his release.
Nelson’s family members said earlier in the hearing that 10 years was not enough for the grief and pain they have endured since the shooting.
Linda Tugwell, Nelson’s mother, brought several containers to the witness stand, one of them a bag containing cell phones she said Harvey could give away the next time somebody asked him for one.
“I would like to have the peace of mind that my son’s life was worth more than 10 years,” Tugwell said.
“Daniel, I’ll never be able to forgive you for what you did to my family,” Tugwell told Harvey.
Julia Homa, Nelson’s fiancée and mother of a child born to them in 2011, testified that “10 years is not enough for my son and all the things he will miss.”
Peter McDermott, one of Harvey’s two public defenders, urged Hupp to consider a sentence in the lower to mid-range of the state’s sentencing guidelines for voluntary manslaughter – two years and 10 months to five years and 10 months – coupled with mental health treatment.
McDermott said a psychologist who evaluated Harvey before the sentencing found evidence that the defendant suffered from a borderline personality disorder that contributed to his decision to fire on Nelson.
McDermott said the psychologist “made it clear there is a way forward for Mr. Harvey. He could be cured.”
Wiseley scoffed at McDermott’s call for leniency and noted that Harvey had already been on medication that he had stopped taking at the time of the shooting.
“Maybe when he gets out, he will take his medication as prescribed,” Wiseley said of Harvey.
Harvey, who entered and left the courtroom in a stooped gait with his head bowed, apologized several times to the Nelson family.
“All I can ask of you is please forgive me for my actions,” Harvey said. “I have nightmares most of the week reliving this horrible tragedy.”
Hupp called the case “one of the more egregious situations” involving a charge of manslaughter that he has seen. Hupp said Nelson was not threatening Harvey, nor was the gun in a place where Harvey could easily grab it in a fit of anger.
“He had to go get the gun by breaking into a locked cabinet,” Hupp said of Harvey.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org