An elderly Fish Springs man was sentenced Tuesday to 10-25 years in prison in the Nov. 21, 2013, shooting death of caretaker Catherine Mary Costanza.
The sentence amounted to life in prison for Melvin Norlund, 82, his defense attorney said.
Costanza’s brother, Mike, spoke on behalf of the dozen of the 51-year-old victim’s family and friends at Norlund’s sentencing.
“Cathy didn’t get a trial,” he said. “The defendant gave her a death sentence. He should feel grateful if he receives anything less than the sentence he gave her.”
He showed the court an eight-minute video remembering Costanza’s life as a coach and loved one.
“The defendant’s sentence is finite,” Costanza said. “Our sentence is infinite because of his selfish actions the lives of many people Cathy knew have suffered by his actions.”
Before the sentencing hearing began, District Judge Tod Young questioned Norlund carefully to determine if he was aware of what was happening.
Norlund replied he understood the proceedings. Attorney Kris Brown also vouched she believed Norlund was capable of understanding what was happening to him.
“I need to apologize to the family members,” Norlund said, though he still claimed the shooting was an accident.
“When you have two people jerking on a gun it’s extremely dangerous,” he said.
Both the defense and prosecution agreed to the recommended sentence of 10-25 years.
“I’m 82 years old, so I don’t have too many years left,” Norlund told Young.
Brown said both Norlund and Costanza had problems with alcohol and Norlund suffered some early signs of Alzheimer’s.
Costanza had moved in to the Fish Springs home to care for Norlund two weeks before the incident. The relationship was rocky from the start.
Brown said Costanza had alcohol in her system when the shooting occurred.
Norlund said his plan was to threaten to shoot her dog if she didn’t stop yelling at him. He loaded the shotgun and brought it into the room where they were arguing.
“It’s clear to me this was a horrible day,” Young said before sentencing Norlund for second degree murder. “Mr. Norlund is not an easy man to live with. And as her brother said, Mrs. Costanza had her demons. Mr. Norlund you say you’ve been around guns all your life, so you should have known better than to bring a gun into this situation. You did that, you put the ammunition in it. You brought a loaded weapon into this situation and that’s what leads to you facing a second degree murder charge.”
In sentencing Norlund, Young pointed out it was unlikely he would be paroled on the first try after 10 years.