PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. — A 64-year-old Louisville, Neb., man will serve a minimum prison sentence of 17½ years for first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a felony.
Steven I. Harrod was sentenced Monday by Cass County District Judge Randall Rehmeier to 20 to 30 years on the assault charge and 10 to 30 years for using a firearm to commit a felony. The sentences will be served one after the other.
Harrod pleaded no contest in exchange for dismissal of a third charge — possession of a firearm — and for Cass County Attorney Nathan Cox to remain silent during the sentencing.
In the plea agreement, Harrod admitted shooting Michael Green in the face on Jan. 14 in Louisville. Green and his girlfriend were tenants of Harrod.
The girlfriend told authorities that Harrod lent her a truck so she could pick up Green from work. Harrod became upset because he thought she was gone too long, she said.
Cox said Harrod brandished a .44-caliber handgun at the woman, and when Green tried to push the gun away, Harrod fired.
The bullet entered just below Green's left nostril, struck the left carotid artery and lodged in the back of his skull. Cox said a doctor was prepared to testify that surgery to remove the bullet would be life-threatening and that Green now lives with a high risk of stroke. The wound also caused facial and dental injuries.
After shooting Green, Harrod fled to Goodman, Mo., where he eventually surrendered to authorities without incident.
At the sentencing hearing, Harrod's attorney, Julie Bear, argued that Harrod deserved a lenient sentence because of his military service in the Vietnam War. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
Harrod gave a letter of apology to Green, and his quick surrender in Missouri after fleeing Nebraska law enforcement authorities showed that he regretted his actions, she said.
“This conflict escalated in a way Mr. Harrod never intended,” Bear said.
Rehmeier said he weighed the significance of Harrod's crimes with his military service but ultimately decided a stiff sentence was warranted because of the harm he caused Green and because of Harrod's criminal past.
Harrod has a lengthy record in Nebraska and elsewhere. Before the most recent shooting, he had been convicted of a half-dozen misdemeanors, mostly related to domestic violence or drugs.
“How he's served this country is something to be proud of,” the judge said Monday. “...There's a balancing here. And he poses some threat to other people.”