A 36-year-old Lawrence man Friday received a five-year prison sentence for his involvement in the beating death of an elderly man in southeastern Lawrence.
Jerod Buffalohead had pleaded guilty in September to voluntary manslaughter in the Feb. 2 death of Jerry Deshazer, 62, after a night of drinking. In November, co-defendant Shanna Friday, 37, is scheduled to stand trial on a reckless second-degree murder charge.
Prosecutors have accused Buffalohead and Friday of striking Deshazer and not calling for help. Deshazer bled to death, according to coroner's testimony.
"I'm sorry for not calling for any emergency help for him," Buffalohead said in a statement that his attorney, Kip Elliott, read in court Friday afternoon.
Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild sentenced him to serve 61 months in prison.
Two of Deshazer's daughters and his sister spoke during the hearing saying the victim was a decent man involved in community service and helping others, including letting Friday stay at his home while she was in financial trouble.
"I hope you can see Jerry's face in your dreams every night when you are asleep and when you are awake," said Judy Kay Deshazer, of Garland, Texas, who is Jerry Deshazer's younger sister.
She said she was disappointed Buffalohead didn't receive more prison time.
"It wasn't enough, and he did not take responsibility on his part. It angers me," Judy Kay Deshazer said.
According to preliminary hearing testimony in March, Buffalohead had told police Deshazer and Friday had a financial dispute, and Buffalohead tried to break it up.
Buffalohead told police that he back-handed and punched Deshazer and that Friday had struck him with a glass bottle.
During his statement read at sentencing, Buffalohead admitted to slapping Deshazer while he tried to break up the dispute, and he apologized for not being completely truthful with investigators.
But he said he didn't deliver blows that would have injured Deshazer badly, and Buffalohead said he would have called for help if he had known Deshazer was that severely hurt.
"For the record, I didn't do that to Jerry," Buffalohead said in his statement.
Buffalohead had pleaded to the lesser voluntary manslaughter charge after he was ordered to face trial on reckless second-degree murder.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said prosecutors thought Buffalohead's conviction was appropriate although they were disappointed that state guidelines dictated he would not receive more time.
Part of the reason prosecutors accepted the plea was to avoid a jury convicting him of a reduced charge, such as involuntary manslaughter.
"We didn't want to have any risk of lesser time," Branson said.
Fairchild gave Buffalohead credit for serving 250 days in jail, and by law, he is eligible to receive up to 15 percent credit off his sentence for good behavior.