A teenager who pleaded guilty to shooting a man he was trying to carjack was sentenced Friday to 21 years in prison.
Aaron Toleafoa, 17, was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty in March to charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, vehicle theft and taking a vehicle without permission.
He stole multiple cars at gunpoint in October 2014, when he was 15, and when one of the victims tried to reach for his own gun, Toleafoa shot him in the chest.
That man’s wife wrote the court ahead of sentencing that her husband, David McCollaum, had lost the use of his arm, and that he recently had surgery in the hope of regaining it. They likely won’t know for months if it worked.
He broke a bone in his shoulder during the shooting, and hasn’t been able to work, making it hard for them to care for their baby daughter, she said.
“He laments daily that he can’t swing her up in the air to make her laugh, like I do sometimes,” Johanna McCollaum wrote. “… We wanted to have another child, and plans for that were put on hold because we just don’t know what our future looks like, and caring for the daughter we have is hard enough now.”
In court records filed by his attorney, Toleafoa said: I “apologize to the victims of my actions, to the court, and to my family, for all the pain, suffering, trauma, and inconvenience that I have put them through.”
He recognized his actions were reckless, he said, and that he put the man’s life in jeopardy.
“I did not know what else to do but shoot,” he said.
Asking for leniency in the hope of being out when his 1-year-old son is about his age, he said: “I will show that I can be a productive citizen, make my family proud and regain the trust of the community.”