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INDEPENDENCE — The man found guilty of shooting Grayson County Deputy Doug Waller in an incident that occurred in June 2012 will serve a total of 11 years in prison, after he was sentenced last Thursday in Grayson County circuit court.
Gary Frank Wheatley, 45, of 3016 Skyline Highway in the Fairview community, was found guilty on one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony in his trial in May.
On Aug. 15, Substitute Judge Colin Gibb sentenced Wheatley to serve three years for use of a firearm in commission of a felony and eight years for aggravated malicious wounding. All 10 years were suspended for the attempted first-degree murder charge, and 32 years were suspended from the aggravated malicious wounding charge.
During the sentencing, the court heard testimony from members of Waller’s family and the deputy himself about the impact the incident has had on them. Waller’s father and wife each took the stand and testified that they were still suffering psychological effects from the incident, but they both said they hadn’t discouraged the deputy from staying with his career in law enforcement.
When Deputy Waller took the stand, he relived the fateful night once again by telling the court his experience, and he was asked about his road to recovery.
He was reinstated to full-duty with the sheriff’s department in September 2012, but he said being shot in the abdomen had affected his core strength and he also suffers from problems with his bowels. He said the incident had affected him psychologically, as well, saying that it has made him more apprehensive when meeting strangers.
“It’s made me learn I can’t trust people to the level I thought I could,” he told the court.
Wheatley was last to take to the stand, and reiterated his experience on the night of the shooting. As he had testified at his trial, he said he was intending to defend his home from what he thought was an intruder.
When asked questions about his character, it was revealed that Wheatley had served three years in the military and stayed employed his entire life. His only criminal history included minor traffic violations many years ago.
He stated he was “sincerely sorry” for his actions that night.
“The decision I made to defend my home that night was wrong, even though I thought at the time I was doing right,” he said. “That shot has ended my life as I know it, and it almost destroyed Mr. Waller’s, too. I’m incredibly sorry to Mr. Waller’s family, the police department and this court.”
Before sentencing Wheatley, Judge Gibb said Wheatley’s lack of a criminal record and his lifetime of employment were in his favor.
However, Gibb said Wheatley’s testimony didn’t add up. He said the evidence presented proved Deputy Waller had no chance to identify himself and knock on the door of Wheatley’s home before the two shots were fired.
(Lack of police identification was one of the arguments raised by Wheatley’s attorney, Jonathon Venzie).
Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor and his assistant, Travis Epps, represented the Commonwealth in the case after Grayson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Doug Vaught stepped down to avoid a conflict of interest. Vaught’s job requires him to work closely with the sheriff’s department.
Wheatley’s wife, Crystal Gooslin-Wheatley, will also be tried for her alleged connection to the incident in a one-day jury trial Nov. 14. She will be represented by Grayson attorney Brandon Boyles.