It wasn’t just a car a thief was stealing from Tobin Hugh Panton outside his Bonney Lake home the night of Nov. 3.
The tools of Panton’s deceased father were in the vehicle. That’s the reason Panton got his .40-caliber Glock and fired at the fleeing bandit, his lawyer said in Pierce County Superior Court Friday.
One of his bullets hit and killed his neighbor, 61-year-old Linda Green, instead.
“He regrets now and will forever regret the decision that he made in an attempt to salvage the vestige of his own father,” defense attorney Bryan Hershman said before Panton was sentenced for killing Green. “It cost the life of a wonderful woman. It imperiled a neighborhood.”
Judge Timothy Ashcraft settled on a high-end sentence of eight years, six months in prison for Panton — which is what deputy prosecutor Erika Nohavec asked for. He previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in Green’s death.
Nohavec told the judge that 41-year-old Panton took matters into his own hands instead of calling 911 when he saw someone stealing his Jeep from outside his house in the Prairie Ridge neighborhood.
“He didn’t think about any of his neighbors,” when he fired his gun at the thief, she said.
Some people who were walking their dog ducked when they heard the bullets.
A bullet was found in the living room of another neighbor.
And one flew into Green’s bedroom and killed her.
Green loved the color purple, and loved ones wore it in her honor when they filled the courtroom Friday.
They told the judge Green was the glue of their family. She babysat great grandchildren, cared for a brother suffering from cancer and helped loved ones when money was tight.
“Grandma loved being grandma, but she loved being great grandma even more,” granddaughter Star Mace said.
Panton told the court: “I’m very, very sorry, and I can’t say that enough.”
Hershman said Panton was trying to shoot at the tires of the fleeing car.
He pointed out that Panton has no criminal history, and that he’s his mother’s caregiver.
“He made a terrible mistake,” Hershman said.
When the sentence was announced, Panton’s mother called from the gallery: “He’s my only son.”
Panton told her he loved her and was taken off to start serving his time.