Army veteran facing 120-year sentence for firing gunshots in air
A Jacksonville man faces a 120-year sentence for firing two shots that caused no injuries, The Florida Times-Unionreported on Sunday.
Jury selection for the trial of Army Veteran Randal Ratledge, 58, is scheduled to begin today. Defense attorney Bill Sheppard has asked the judge to waive mandatory guidelines under the 10-20-life rule insisting that the punishment does not fit the crime, but court officials admit Judge Jack Schemer is bound by the state law.
While time may run out for the Ratledge case, the Florida Legislature is considering a bill that would remove aggravated assault from the list of crimes that fall under 10-20-life. This would have taken the extreme sentence off the table. Sheppard says, “Ratledge would be willing to plead guilty if prosecutors would allow the judge to impose a lesser sentence”. He is charged with six counts of aggravated assault after a 2012 incident where he waved a gun and shot two rounds in public, traumatizing the six neighbors that were with him at the time, prosecutors say. Each of the convictions carries a potential 20-year mandatory sentence.
Attorney Bryan DeMaggio, who is also on Ratledge’s defense team said he and Sheppard plan to argue that he was “involuntarily intoxicated” after a bad reaction to Ambien prescribed for insomnia, and doesn’t remember firing the gun. Ratledge claims not remembering the incident at all between ingesting the pill and “coming to” in police custody.