ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska man who killed a state prosecutor in a jealous rage was sentenced to 105 years in prison on Friday.
Ronald Fisher, 51, a felon with a history of assaulting women, used a shotgun to kill Brian Sullivan in December 2014 in in the Inupiat community of Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States.
Sullivan had begun dating the mother of Fischer’s children. He died in her home as he waited for her to dress for dinner and a movie. Fischer in November was convicted of first-degree murder and assault counts.
At sentencing Friday, Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller agreed with prosecutor James Fayette that Fischer belonged to the worst category of offenders. Miller said he appreciated statements by family and friends, who called for forgiveness as part of their Inupiat culture, and mentioned Fischer’s attributes as a whaler, hunter and father. However, other people go through what basically was a divorce, the judge said.
“I’m left with somebody pulling a trigger when they had the opportunity to think about it,” Miller said.
Sullivan died on Dec. 8, 2014, two days after his 48th birthday. He was a former legislator who served in the Washington House of Representatives from January 1997 to January 2001, representing Tacoma.
Fischer, 51, and the woman had ended an 18-year relationship and were estranged. Three months before the shooting, Fischer was charged with punching her in the face. Fischer up to that point had 21 convictions, including two felonies, and most involved “assaultive behavior,” said Fayette in his sentencing memo.
In September 2014, as police attempted to arrest him, he used his 6-year-old daughter as a shield and threatened more than 20 times to kill the arresting officer, who captured the moment on video.
The afternoon of the shooting, the woman met Sullivan to work out at Barrow High School and saw Fischer there. Sullivan and the woman drove in separate vehicles to her home to eat dinner and watch a movie. As she dressed in her bedroom, she heard Fischer enter the living room, call out “Who are you?” to Sullivan and then gunshots.
North Slope Borough Police investigators concluded that Fischer shot Sullivan twice in the face with a 20-gauge shotgun from 10 feet (3 meters) or less as Sullivan sat on a couch.
Fischer found the woman hiding in her closet. They struggled over the gun, and she eventually fled to the police station to report the shooting.
Defense attorney Dina Cale said Fischer was devastated by the end of his long relationship with the mother of his children. She said Fischer’s case was less than the most serious first-degree murder conviction and she urged a sentence of less than the maximum.
Fischer spoke for about five minutes, and between tears, thanked his family and friends for their support, apologized to Sullivan’s family and asked Judge Miller for mercy.
Miller said Fischer’s criminal history, escalating violence and poor chance for rehabilitation, along with the need to protect the community and deter others, called for the maximum sentence.
“In no society, am I able to believe that any upbringing justifies murder, that any upbringing justifies hitting a woman in a DV (domestic violence) situation,” Miller said.