Michael Boisselle argued in court Wednesday for the second time that he killed his roommate in self-defense.
For the second time, the argument was rejected, leading to Boisselle being sentenced for shooting 30-year-old Brandon Zomalt in 2014.
Superior Court Judge Jerry Costello sentenced the South Hill man to more than 21 years in prison for the killing.
Before Costello acted, 36-year-old Boisselle addressed the court.
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“It’s a shame that I’m being called a murderer for defending my life in my own home,” he said. “… I’m sorry somebody had to lose their life at my hands.”
A jury found Boisselle guilty of second-degree murder last month, and while they didn’t buy the self-defense argument, defense attorney John McNeish said they still could play a role at sentencing.
He outlined for Costello the times Zomalt allegedly threatened to hurt or kill others, including incidents in which his mother filed for restraining orders against him.
A court can impose an exceptionally low sentence if a victim is found to be an aggressor, and if a defendant commits the crime under duress, McNeish wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
He asked for a 10-year sentence, below the standard range.
Instead, Costello handed down a sentence of 21 years, eight months.
“I have to question who is on trial today,” the judge said. “… In my eyes, Mr. Boisselle was not credible.”
Costello said he believed an argument or altercation prompted the shooting, and, “We will probably never know exactly what that was.”
Boisselle said at trial that Zomalt had been homeless, so he let him move into his home. He said Zomalt drank excessively and used methamphetamine while living with him.
He testified that in August 2014, when he told Zomalt he needed to move out, Zomalt held him at gunpoint. Boisselle said he managed to grab the weapon and fired when Zomalt came after him.
Prosecutors said Boisselle tried to burn carpet stained with Zomalt’s blood along an Auburn road, and weeks later detectives found Zomalt’s body at the duplex where the men lived.
Boisselle’s mother, Lola Patterson, said he had tried to help Zomalt, and that at her son’s request had taken him to get a food handler’s permit.
“Michael has a huge heart,” Patterson said. “… I’m not saying Michael’s an angel, but he’s a good person. He’s never hurt anyone like this.”
Zomalt had been troubled, she said, and she was sorry for his family’s loss.
Boisselle and Zomalt each have four young children. Patterson brought one of Boisselle’s sons to the sentencing because she wanted Boisselle to see how tall he’d grown.
Zomalt’s mother, Natalie, in a statement she wrote to the court, said she’d spent many sleepless nights with Zomalt’s daughter, who worried Boisselle might hurt them, too, before he was arrested.
Her son’s children, she said, ranging in age from 3 to 8, watched YouTube videos to hear their father’s voice.
“We’ll have another generation of children being raised without their dad,” her statement said. “Something Brandon truly didn’t want.”
Outside court, she said her son was a loving person.
“A lot of his demons were a cry for help, and it’s sad to see him not here anymore,” she said.