A Carson City man who shot two teenagers during a gang-related dispute in July will spend at least six years in a Nevada prison, ordered District Judge Michael Fondi.
In a statement during his sentencing Tuesday, Michael Martin Johnson, 19, apologized to the victims and their families and said he regretted the effect the shooting has had on their lives.
"I would like to say I'm sorry to the individuals who I shot and their families," he said, choking back tears. "The person who did the shooting was not the real me. It was me physically but not mentally."
Johnson pleaded no contest Nov. 2 to two counts of battery with a deadly weapon for shooting Enrique Montanez, 16, and Salvadore Davalos, 18, during a July 27 altercation in front of a South Carson Street restaurant.
In exchange for his guilty plea to the battery charges, prosecutors dropped attempted-murder charges and vowed to seek no more than 16 years total.
After hearing arguments from Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer and defense attorney Bill Rogers, and a statement from Johnson, Fondi opted to follow the sentencing recommendations of the department of parole and probation, and ordered him to prison for two consecutive eight-year sentences.
Johnson will be eligible for release after serving six years - three years for each offense.
The July incident was sparked when Johnson and three passengers in a car exchanged gang signs with three pedestrians. According to the victims' testimony at an earlier hearing, the car pulled into a parking lot and two passengers came after the trio throwing rocks and engaging them in a fight.
At the hearing, Montanez testified that he saw Johnson approach with a pistol after the fight was over.
Montanez said he heard the sound of the slide being pulled on the pistol and he heard Johnson tell his companions to leave. As they turned, at least two shots were fired, Montanez testified.
Johnson and Paul Michael Randall, also 19, were arrested an hour after the shooting in a North Carson recreational vehicle park. While searching Johnson and Randall's apartment, detectives found a .40-caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol.
While pleading for Fondi to run the two battery sentences concurrently, Rogers told the court that Johnson was a victim of circumstance.
"This case is probably one of the saddest ones I've dealt with," he said. "He was riding with some people that were involved with some gangs; he wasn't even a gang member.
"A fight occurred which he wasn't even a participant in.
"It isn't my client's gun," he added. "He fired some rounds and two people are injured."
Rogers also argued that Johnson didn't have the "benefits of a traditional family unit" and that he "claims addictions to drugs."
While reading from a prepared statement, Johnson said he was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time.
He also maintained that he did not intend to hit the two victims. He said he fired several warning shots in order to stop the beating of his friend.
Langer countered that claim.
"In this case, Mr. Johnson chose to bring a gun to a rock fight," she said. "Witnesses say Johnson brought the gun out at the end of the fight. He shot them in the back."
Randall was charged with battery and tried separately. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in justice court on Sept. 19 and was sentenced to 180 days of suspended jail time and 40 hours of community service. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Nov. 19 for allegedly failing to comply with his sentence.
"But for the grace of God, these two men might have been dead," Fondi said. "There is a price to pay for that kind of conduct."