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MONROE - A Toledo man who claimed he couldn't recall pulling a loaded handgun on the man he held responsible for causing the road-rage death of his teenage son will serve at least 5 3/4 years in prison.
At the sentencing for Charles Fackelman in Monroe County Circuit Court, Judge Joseph Costello, Jr., said the defendant's actions in the March 24 gun toting attack on Randy Krell and his neighbor were methodical and controlled.
"Everything you did that day demonstrates to me that you knew what you were doing," the judge said.
Fackelman, 47, was convicted after a jury trial in January on two counts of felonious assault, home invasion, and gun possession. He will receive credit for the 31 days he has served in the county jail.
At his trial, Fackelman took the stand and claimed he didn't remember driving to the Lambertville home of Mr. Krell, pulling a loaded gun, pursuing him to the home of the neighbor, Thomas Williams, and kicking down the steel door of Mr. Williams' house in an attempt to get to Mr. Krell.
Not guilty by reason of insanity was among the verdicts that the jury could have reached. Instead, the panel found Fackelman guilty but mentally ill.
Judge Costello imposed a two-year mandatory sentence for the gun possession conviction and added 3 3/4 years to 20 years to the punishment for the other offenses. Fackelman also was ordered to never enter Bedford Township upon his release from prison without the court's permission.
Mr. Krell, 52, was released from the county jail Feb. 20 for the sentence he received for chasing after a carload of teenagers in June, 2006, after one of them tossed a water bottle at his car.
The car, driven by Austin Oberle, went out of control at a Whiteford Township intersection and crashed into a tree, killing Charlie Fackelman, the defendant's 17-year-old son, and seriously injuring a teenage girl.
Mr. Krell, a former Bedford Public Schools board member, was convicted in a jury trial in August of negligent homicide. He served about five months of a nine-month jail sentence.
Mr. Williams, who is an assistant principal at Dundee High School, and Mr. Krell were in the courtroom for the sentencing yesterday, but neither victim wanted to make a statement to the court. They left the packed courtroom immediately.
Fackelman, who was dismissed from his job with the U.S. Postal Service, didn't make a statement at his sentencing.
A day before the confrontation at Mr. Krell's home, Fackelman attended the Whitmer High School baseball team's first home game of the season. His son would have been a senior and the team's starting shortstop.
According to testimony, the defendant acted strangely and stood alone at the game. Witnesses said he stared into the infield at the position that Charlie would have played. His wife, Janet, testified that her husband came home from the game, went to his bedroom, and cried himself to sleep.
Kenneth Simon, a Wayne County, Michigan, assistant prosecutor who handled the case, argued to Judge Costello that a message needed to be sent to discourage others from taking the law into their own hands.
"What would have happened in this case if Randy Krell had not gone to Mr. Williams' house? I think at the very least that Mr. Fackelman's intent was more than pointing a gun at Mr. Krell," Mr. Simon said.
Defense attorney Asad Farah argued for leniency and asked the judge to depart from state sentencing guidelines.
Mr. Farah said the tragic death of his son threw Fackelman into mental illness and he couldn't deal with the loss, causing unusual mitigating factors in the case.
"He needs help. He needs to continue on with his medication. He needs to continue on with his therapy," Mr. Farah said. "There is no dispute that he has a mental illness. The question is whether he will receive help under a prison sanction."
Judge Costello said that Fackelman put the victims and their families as well as their neighborhood in a state of fear, to the point that Mr. Williams became suspicious when a strange vehicle drove past.
"No one should have to live like that," the judge said.
Under state law, Fackelman will not be eligible to appear before the parole board until he serves the minimum punishment of 69 months.
Fackelman also was ordered by Judge Costello to pay restitution of $1,564 to Mr. Williams and his insurance carrier for the damage that he did to the home.