A man who shot at a truck driver during a road rage incident on I-94 in Michigan was issued a shorter prison sentence because of his military service and subsequent PTSD.
The shooting took place in September 2016 when 34 year old Trenton Norris shot at a semi from his motorcycle because he believed that the truck driver had cut him off. Truck driver Allen Shotko wasn’t injured but police did find a bullet lodged in his semi.
Shotko testified that he was driving in the center lane of I-94 when Norris passed him on the right at a high rate of speed and appeared to be shouting obscenities and trying to get Shotko to pull his truck over. Norris’s lawyer said that his client believed at the time that the truck driver was trying to get him.
In court Norris cited tensions between truckers and motorcyclists as part of the reason for the road rage incident: “I made a huge mistake. I really honestly did. There’s an unseen battle between truck drivers, motorcycles and other vehicles. I’ve lost about five friends on motorcycles.”
Norris told the court that he believed he was in danger on the interstate and that his military training kicked in.
In February Norris accepted a plea deal and entered a guilty plea to charges of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm and discharge from a motor vehicle. Both of these charges are felonies that carry a maximum ten year sentence. As part of the plea deal, Norris also plead guilty to a felony weapons charge which comes with a mandatory two year sentence.
In the end, Judge Scott Schofield sentenced Norris to serve the mandatory two year term. After that, Norris was ordered to serve between one and ten years for assault charge and a concurrent 186 days for discharging a weapon from a motor vehicle. Norris was also ordered to pay $896 to the trucking company that employed Shotko.
Schofield says that he decided on a lesser sentence for Norris because of his military service. Norris was a 13 year Army veteran and fought in Iraq. He says that he has PTSD as a result of his service. Said Schofield, “My sentence is not without acknowledgment and gratitude for your service. The court, your country and your fellow citizens owe you a great debt that can never be repaid.“