A 64-year-old Spirit Lake man will spend at least 12 years behind bars for an “incredibly unnecessary and absurd” shooting that left the man’s 66-year-old friend dead last summer in North Idaho.
First District Judge Lamont Berecz on Tuesday sided with the prosecutor’s recommendation and sentenced Michael L. Schofield to life in prison with parole eligibility after 12 years for the killing of Steven M. Moore. Schofield pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December.
Schofield told the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office he shot Moore in the head after the man told him he could pull a knife and stab him before Schofield could draw his gun and shoot him.
“Words don’t capture the gravity of how stupid this was,” Berecz said.
Schofield, whose family sat in the front row of the gallery Tuesday, stood and apologized to the Moore family and his own family for the “inexcusable” killing. The Moore family attended virtually.
“It’s not me,” Schofield said of the shooting.
He then sat and looked down, saying he wished he remembered what happened that day and that Moore was a “good friend.”
Schofield called 911 around 4:45 p.m. Aug. 5 saying he killed Moore and that he needed paramedics and police to take him to jail, according to court documents.
Bonner County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Valerie Fenton played the 911 call for the court Tuesday.
Schofield told the 911 dispatcher he and Moore were drinking and “being stupid,” and that Moore threatened to kill him with a knife. Fenton said deputies did not find a knife on Moore.
Schofield said Moore did not make movements toward him prior to the shooting, according to documents.
“I shot him in the freakin’ head. He’s dead,” Schofield said on the 911 recording.
Schofield sounded distraught during the phone call, saying expletives multiple times and that he was going to vomit.
Schofield looked down toward his lap while the 911 call played. He wore yellow jail clothing with a white long-sleeved shirt underneath, with his hands cuffed in front of him.
Fenton also showed the court a short video of Schofield pointing a gun at Moore the day before the murder.
Schofield told the sheriff’s office that Moore “didn’t have a chance,” according to Fenton.
“This was an intentional act and a reckless one,” Fenton said.
Documents say deputies detained Schofield in front of a home on the 3400 block of Spirit Lake Cutoff Road and found Moore dead in a chair in the yard. Moore was shot once in the face.
Deputies located a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson pistol on a table in the yard and a spent .45-caliber shell casing near an empty chair across from the chair Moore was in, according to court records .
Speaking to a deputy at the sheriff’s office, Schofield said Moore lived with him the week before and was supposed to move out soon and go to Maryland.
Schofield said he and Moore had been drinking alcohol that day. Breathalyzer samples showed Schofield’s blood alcohol content to be 0.18 and 0.19, documents say.
Schofield said he and Moore were sitting across from each other drinking, including taking whiskey shots, at a table in the front yard of the home north of Spirit Lake. After Moore made the statement about pulling a knife faster than Schofield could draw his gun, Schofield said he drew his Smith and Wesson from a nylon holster on his right hip and shot him in the head once, saying, “Boom, you’re dead.”
Attorney Robyn McPherson said her client did not remember many details from the day, but that Schofield shot Moore because Schofield “was afraid that Steve was going to stab him.”
She said Moore was a “mean drunk.”
“He had been berating and antagonizing Mike for days,” McPherson said of Moore.
McPherson asked Berecz to impose a sentence that would allow Schofield to be eligible for parole in eight years, which could be a life sentence given her client’s age and health issues, she said.
Berecz said he could not follow McPherson’s eight-year sentence because it would send the wrong message to the community.
Kimberly Helms, Schofield’s ex-partner, said after the sentencing “justice is being served.”
“Our heart goes out to the Moore family,” Helms said.