Man Who Fired 'Warning' Shot at Daughter's Boyfriend Gets 20 Years in Prison (VIDEO)


A 59-year-old Florida man has been sentenced to prison for 20 years for firing a "warning shot" at a man he says was threatening himself and his family. Lee Wollard was a biologist who worked at SeaWorld when he fired a "warning shot" at his wall when he discovered his 16-year-old daughter and 17-year-old boyfriend arguing and felt that the boyfriend was threatening him and his daughter. "The next one is between your eyes," he says he told the teen. While Wollard didn't hurt anyone, Florida's mandatory sentencing laws mean that the armed dad, who was found guilty of aggravated assault involving a firearm, got 20 years hard time. More than George Zimmerman got for actually killing Trayvon Martin. More than "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch got for killing four people. The most shocking part? Wollard could have easily avoided prison entirely.

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The state had offered Wollard an amazing plea deal -- no prison time at all in exchange for a guilty plea. But Wollard, genuinely believing he'd done nothing wrong and was merely trying to protect his family, refused. I don't know if this was poor counsel or just stubbornness, but either way, Wollard won't see freedom again until he's a very old man.

Oddly, Wollard seems at peace with his sentencing, telling CBS News:

As bizarre as it sounds, if this is what the State of Florida requires of you to make sure your family is safe, I'm willing to do it. It's a bargain. I've got three family members, my two daughters and my wife, and they're alive. They're alive because of this. It's a bargain. Twenty years is a bargain.

Even more bizarre? Even the boyfriend Wollard menaced with his warning shot thinks this is a bum deal. The boyfriend supports clemency for Wollard -- which, if he gets it, means he will come out of prison when he's 73.

Mandatory sentencing laws were put in place due to high profile cases where defendants got off with a slap on the wrist for horrific crimes. But with every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction, and now we're hearing about ridiculously tough sentences for crimes that don't fit the bill.

Sure, Wollard could have hurt someone. He deserves to be punished. But if he genuinely believed his life was in danger, then a warning shot seems fair. Sounds like that definitely wasn't proven in court, however.

This isn't the first time someone in Florida has gone to prison for a warning shot -- there was an outrage when George Zimmerman was free to go yet mom Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years for her "warning shot" in the ceiling above her abusive ex's head. Her sentence was overturned, but she awaits a retrial with the same potential sentence.

It seems like in Florida, shooting to kill gets you less time than shooting to warn. Wouldn't it be nice if there was no shooting at all?

Do you think the punishment fits the crime?


Image via FaliosRuben/YouTube

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