MONROE — A Temperance man who shot and killed an intruder after the intruder had left his property faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 13 in Monroe County Circuit Court.
Thomas Wallace, 33, had been charged with open murder and manslaughter in the Dec. 29, 2012, death of Ronald Roth, 46, of Toledo, but he pleaded no contest to and was found guilty of careless discharge of a weapon causing injury or death, a misdemeanor.
His attorney, Timothy Churchill of Temperance, said Mr. Wallace could have faced up to life in prison without parole if convicted of the open murder charge.
“I think we can live with the result,” he said of the plea agreement. “I feel we had a very defensible case, but that would have been up to a jury to decide.”
Mr. Wallace, who was to have gone on trial Dec. 16, was inside his home at the Inverness Community mobile home park in Bedford Township when he let a woman enter. She was followed by Mr. Roth, who, Mr. Churchill said, tackled Mr. Wallace, held him facedown on the floor, put a knife to the back of his neck, and told him he’d kill him if he moved.
The intruders stole a television, a cell phone, and some other personal items.
Mr. Churchill said Mr. Wallace then got up, got his gun, and ran outside where he fired at their car as it was driving off. Mr. Roth fell out of the car and Mr. Wallace shot him again.
“When [Mr. Roth] came out of the vehicle, he had something in his hand that turned out to be a remote TV controller, but my guy thought it was a weapon,” Mr. Churchill said. “He knew he had a knife on him in the home. We would’ve argued self-defense at that point.”
He said he also was prepared to argue Mr. Wallace was justified in shooting Mr. Roth even after he had left his property based on Michigan’s fleeing felon rule, which under certain circumstances permits a person to use deadly force to apprehend a fleeing felon.
Mr. Wallace remains free on bond.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.