Dymon Bolton did not pull the trigger on the single gunshot that ended Matthew Dugan's life.
But it was what he didn't do in the moments preceding and in the hours after the Aug. 13 robbery and murder at a West Toledo convenience store that resulted in him spending time behind bars, a judge in Lucas County Common Pleas Court said yesterday.
Bolton, 18, of 623 Ranch Drive was sentenced to four years in prison for lying to police during the investigation of Mr. Dugan's murder at a BP at Dorr Street and Secor Road. He pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to two counts of obstructing justice.
"A person's life is lost. That is something that can never, ever be recovered," Judge Denise Ann Dartt said after hearing a statement from Mr. Dugan's mother, Cynthia. "Had you done something differently, could things have been different today? I don't know if you've ever considered that, but I hope that you do."
She then added that because of Bolton's lack of criminal history, the support from his family, and his eventual cooperation with authorities, she would consider judicial release. Bolton will become eligible for judicial release after six months' incarceration.
Bolton was convicted of providing false information to police when questioned about the murder of Mr. Dugan, who was shot once in the back of the head by a man robbing the gas station.
Anthony Belton, 22, of 934 Cuthbert Rd. is charged with one count of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated robbery. He faces the death penalty when he goes to trial March 2.
Also charged is Tony Bivens, Jr., 17, of 1024 Ranch Drive who is believed to have driven a getaway vehicle. The teenager is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 26 on one count of complicity to commit aggravated robbery. A conviction could send him to prison for up to eight years.
Attorney Lorin Zaner told Judge Dartt that it was only moments before being driven to the gas station that Bolton learned of the plan to rob it. He said it was fear that kept Bolton from doing the right thing, both before and after the incident.
In a statement to Judge Dartt, Mrs. Dugan remarked that everyone makes choices, and she questioned whether her son would be alive had Bolton chosen not to stay quiet when he learned of the robbery plan.
"Nothing can bring Matthew Dugan back to his loving family. No other family should have to go through this," Mrs. Dugan said.
She and other family members declined to comment further after the sentencing.
With more than a dozen family and friends sitting in the courtroom behind him, Bolton took his opportunity to address Judge Dartt by turning and speaking to Mr. Dugan's family in the courtroom's back row.
"I would like to say to the Dugan family, I'm sorry for your loss and my prayers will always be with you," he said.
In a sentencing memorandum submitted to Judge Dartt, Mr. Zaner pointed out Bolton's lack of any prior criminal record, his minimal involvement in the incident, his remorse, and his medical history, which includes a diagnosis of a learning disability for which he takes medication.
The memorandum included a letter from Bolton's doctor, several letters of support from family friends, and one from his parents.
Also included was a letter to Judge Dartt from Bolton about "this most horrifying experience that I have ever had to encounter." It also said how scared he was and about the bad decisions he made.
Bolton's family, many who cried after watching him being escorted away in shackles, declined to comment.
Mr. Zaner said he was thankful to the judge for running the two four-year sentences concurrently, giving Bolton a chance at an early release.
"His role was very limited. He didn't get anything, he didn't know anything, he just didn't get out in time," Mr. Zaner said after the sentencing. "What he did was be with the wrong people at the wrong time and not know how to get out of the situation."
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