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Teen Gets Less Than 2 Years For Shooting Victim Says Sentence Too Light; Charge Reduced After Witness Refused To Cooperate

Wed., Jan. 25, 1995

A 16-year-old Spokane boy accused of plotting to kill a stranger will spend less than two years behind bars.

The sentence outraged the victim, who narrowly escaped death after being shot in the face on Dec. 18, 1993.

“I don’t think it’s a fair deal that he gets off so light after what I’ve been through,” complained Michael Wenzel.

The 40-year-old gardener and father of three spoke of being “a mental wreck” and filled with rage since the early morning shooting.

“I’m very angry. I’ve never been that way before in my life,” he said.

Eddie Daniels Jr. laughed and cracked his knuckles before the judge entered the courtroom.

He had been charged with attempted first-degree murder, which carried a standard-range sentence of between 13 and 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors, however, reduced the charge to second-degree assault after their key witness, co-defendant Tony Franetich Jr., refused to cooperate.

Franetich, 17, recently was sent to prison for 10 years for his role in the shooting.

Mistaking Wenzel for a security guard, Franetich fired two shots at him with a .22-caliber handgun.

It was 3 a.m., and Wenzel was sitting in his car outside the 7-Eleven on West Sunset listening to music. The bullets shattered the driver’s window.

Police believe Daniels, who has a history of assaults as a juvenile, instigated the shooting because he wanted to rob the convenience store.

Deputy Prosecutor Steve Kinn said Daniels gave Franetich the gun and told him to “take out” the security guard.

Kinn conceded that Daniels “is getting a considerable break” with the lesser sentence, but he said it’s better than risking an acquittal at trial.

But defense attorney James Sheehan said his client was wrongly branded the ringleader.

“If you believe Eddie’s side of the story, he was in the wrong place,” Sheehan said.

He described Daniels as a bright, personable kid who sings in a church choir, plays guitar and is a budding artist.

While the facts of the case are in dispute, Eddie Daniels Sr. apologized to the victim for his son’s conduct.

“What he did was purely wrong,” the father said. “He was raised better than that.”

Superior Court Judge James Murphy imposed the recommended 21-month sentence, minus 291 days’ credit for time spent in the county jail.

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