BREAKING: John C. Curtis Jr sentenced to 15 years DOC for killing Toby JumpPosted by Jack Howser on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 @ 2:21 pm.
HARRISBURG–Sentencing was held today for the man who killed Niantic resident Toby Jump in April 2009, and it was by turns disappointing and relieving.
John C. Curtis Jr. was convicted by a Saline County jury on November 1, 2010, of Involuntary Manslaughter in the shooting of Jump after a two-week trial and a lot of confusion over what exactly involuntary manslaughter really is…not only on the part of the jury, but of the judge in the case as well, Walden Morris.
Initially charged with First-Degree Murder, Curtis, aided by his Granite City attorney Morgan Scroggins, muddied the waters enough to confuse the issue and prompt the judge to allow involuntary manslaughter as a choice for conviction, even though in April 09 Curtis left the scene of a verbal altercation with Jump and others, went to his house, retrieved a shotgun, loaded it, and fired directly at Jump. One of the pellets struck Jump in the eye, lodging in his brain and killing him. Curtis claimed it was an accident and he was acting as a response to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having been in battles in Iraq just a couple of years before. Foremost, however, he claimed the shooting was “an accident.”
It so happens that under the statute, Involuntary Manslaughter cannot take “an accident” into consideration when applying it to a conviction. Nevertheless, this is what happened, and Curtis got off the murder charge.
Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw therefore brought in Curtis’ other criminal activity in the years before and after the killing, including a 2007 Aggravated DUI and a 2010 Battery, wherein Curtis was involved in a jailhouse beating at Saline County Detention Center, where he’s been held since his early April 2009 arrest. By applying these to the sentencing, Henshaw asked for a total of 18 years.
Morris took his time deciding, upon hearing victim impact statements from the Jump family, as well as yet another tearful statement from Curtis, who again called the shooting “an accident,” contrary to what statutes set forth about his conviction.
Ultimately, Morris determined to sentence Curtis to 15 years: 10 for being a felon in possession of a weapon (at the time of the shooting) and five for involuntary manslaughter. A sentence of 3 years for the Aggravated DUI, which had been languishing in the court system at the time of the shooting, was also issued, although it’s to be served concurrent with the other two, which are consecutive.
Henshaw and the Jump family expressed their disappointment with the verdict, stating they had never agreed with the verdict and had never liked it, and noting they would have been happier over the matter as it concluded if Curtis had been sentenced to the full 18 as requested.
With truth-in-sentencing and time served (more than two years), Curtis will only spend a scant five years four months in DOC over killing Toby Jump, who was a beloved husband, father and brother and only in Harrisburg over that fateful weekend to celebrate family birthdays, including his own.
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