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The Morning News â€” Leslie Mielke
Lawrence James Crow looks toward his family during his sentencing Tuesday afternoon in Seventh District Judge Darren Simpson's courtroom. Using an Alford plea in March, Crow plead guilty to attempted murder.
Lawrence James Crow was sentenced to at least nine years and not more than 15 years in the Idaho Department of Correction on a charge of attempted murder in the first degree.
Seventh District Judge Darren Simpson also fined Crow $3,000. Crow also must pay court costs totaling $225.50 and was assessed a civil fine of $5,000 on behalf of the victim.
Crow was credited with 666 days he has served in the Bingham County jail.
Judge Simpson waived the cost of the evaluations.
Crow was arrested July 22, 2010, and charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of battery-domestic violence. In March 2012, Crow plead guilty to the attempted murder charge, making an Alford plea.
An Alford plea allows the defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt. A defendant making an Alford plea maintains his innocence of the offense charged.
One reason for making such a plea may be to avoid being convicted on a more serious charge.
Souza asked the judge to consider Crow's age (24 years old), the fact this is his first felony. Previously, Crow faced misdemeanor charges associated with alcohol.
"There is no violence of any kind; no record of any violence," Souza said.
"He has excellent family support and has worked to provide for his family," he said.
The mental health assessment indicated Crow has a bipolar disorder and depression, Souza pointed out. "The severity of those findings are treatable."
"Crow can be treated in the community and in Fort Hall," Souza said. He recommended a relatively short period of fixed time, like three years fixed, with five years indeterminate.
Crow said, "I need you to understand me. ... I am sorry."
In making his decision, Judge Simpson said, "I call the way I see it in applying various factors.
"It is clear you have family support," Simpson said. "In a close knit family, sometimes they can become blind and misinterpret somethings.
"I need to focus on the defendant and the victim as well," he said.
"It was your decision to drink; your decision to purchase the gun and the manner you used the gun," the judge said. "Those decisions affected everyone in this courtroom based on the choice that you made.
"Violent behavior occurred in a domestic relationship gives context of what happened," Simpson said. "You lost control of your emotions."
"I am concerned it could happen again," the judge said. "Your conduct in this case caused harm. You did not act on strong provocation; you had no grounds to act as you did.
"What you did on that day in 2010 was not a good person," Simpson said. "Only you can have her; the gun was for her.
"It is exactly what you intended and then to take your own life," he said.
Simpson said he felt if Crow was sentenced to community treatment, "it depreciates the seriousness of the charge."
Crow's family members took the witness stand to speak in his behalf.
"He's a good kid; I just hope the court is lenient on him," said Crow's mother, Carmelita Crow.
"My brother is a good guy," said Audrey Crow Sequints. "I don't understand my brother's decision."
"He's not vindictive," said his step-mother Maureen Sequints.
His personality changes when he's intoxicated, she said.
Blackfoot High School teacher Holly Karchner taught Crow during his senior year in high school
"He was interested in government and politics and showed interest in international topics," Karchner said. "He was a bright student with potential."
Defense attorney John Souza asked each witness if Crow spoke or indicated any vindication toward the victim.
"No" was the emphatic answer.
The victim, Jessica Maureen Matsa, said, "I am protecting my family, my safety and my emotional stability. I am concerned for my safety and that of my family as we move forward."
After this offense, Matsa has since married.
In July 2010, about two weeks before the crime, Matsa had broken up with Crow.
"Lawrence does not understand meaning of "no," said Matsa.
Prosecuting Attorney Scott Andrew said, "She wasn't going to be manipulated or intimidated any more. Crow just wanted her back but she wouldn't talk to him."
On July 22, 2010, Crow and Jessica were completing a custodial exchange of their son at Crow's home.
"He produced a gun from his pocket," Matsa said.
Andrew took up the story from this point.
Crow came out of his home, locking the front door behind him. He then went to his vehicle where he picked up the gun off the floor board and put it into his pocket.
Screaming, Matsa grabbed the doorknob. Crow's sister opened the door and the victim entered the home.
Crow tried to take a shot at her in the living room but the gun did not fire.
Crow's aunt then got between Crow and Matsa. It is thought Crow wrapped his arms around his aunt to point the gun at the victim's face.
The victim put her hand in front of the barrel to protect her face when Crow fired the .22 magnum. The bullet hit the edge of her pinky finger and went down her forearm.
Crow's aunt pulled on Crow's shirt; pulling him away from Matsa as she went into the bathroom.
In his interview with police after the incident, Crow said that nothing seemed to happen when he pulled the trigger in the living room so he pulled the trigger a second time and saw the blood.