A 42-year-old Columbia man who shot his half-brother after he heard him disrespect their mother was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison.
Despite a mental health report that said Martin K. Sierrah is "an otherwise passive individual," Howard Circuit Judge Lenore R. Gelfman noted that alcohol was involved and said she was "not comfortable" releasing him from jail immediately, as his lawyer asked.
"We certainly don't want Mr. Sierrah to hurt someone else," she said before imposing a four-year sentence for the first-degree assault, with all but one year suspended, and two years' supervised probation.
Gelfman said she believed that Sierrah, who has served more than five months awaiting trial, would benefit from the intensive alcohol program at the Howard County Detention Center. Sierrah will receive credit for the time he has served.
Sierrah has been jailed since he shot his younger brother, Chad Hall, 32, in the thigh and struck him in the face as he lay wounded on the floor of Sierrah's home in the 5100 block of Flowertuft Court on Aug. 24, according to prosecutors and court papers.
Charging papers say that police had been called to the home earlier over a domestic dispute and Sierrah and his mother, Greer Hall, asked the officers to remove the younger brother. Police could not persuade either brother to leave, according to the document.
Fifteen minutes after police left, authorities received a call reporting a shooting at the house.
Sierrah later told investigators that he shot his brother after he heard him show disrespect to their mother.
His lawyer, Holly D. Reed III, told Gelfman that Sierrah feared for his life and for his mother's life. Chad Hall has been threatening in the past, Reed said.
Sierrah initially only meant to scare his brother with the gun, not to shoot him, the lawyer said.
In court papers, Sierrah's mother said her older son had been trying to help Chad Hall by allowing him to live with them.
Yesterday, Sierrah, a graduate of Oakland Mills High School who served in the Navy, apologized to Gelfman.
"I guess I was put in a situation I couldn't very well handle at the time," he said.