COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — An Army sergeant who was convicted of manslaughter in a fatal shooting outside a motorcycle club has been sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Christopher Mountjoy, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, was sentenced Thursday in the March 2012 shooting death of Virgil "Jason" Means outside the Sin City Desciples motorcycle club in Colorado Springs.
Mountjoy received the maximum sentence, drawing gasps from family members, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported (http://tinyurl.com/c62e2ah ).
Mountjoy, 32, was sergeant-at-arms for the club. He was still listed as an active-duty member of the Army on Friday but is expected to be discharged now that he has been sentenced.
Mountjoy deployed to Iraq twice and was awarded the Purple Heart, two Army Commendation Medals and the Army Achievement Medal.
He was one of four people charged with murder in the death of Virgil "Jason" Means, who witnesses said had been beaten up at the club and was returning to retrieve his wallet when he was shot. Means was not a member of the club but had been in the club building before he was shot, witnesses testified.
Authorities said the group operated as a private club, charging admission and serving drinks.
Means was shot while sitting in the car of an acquaintance near the club. He was unarmed, but Mountjoy and other defendants said they fired in self-defense because they feared his intentions.
A jury acquitted Mountjoy of murder in February but convicted him of manslaughter, along with evidence tampering and a firearms violation.
Means' sister, Elizabeth White, buried her face in her hands and sobbed as the verdict was read.
"My brother can't get up and walk out of the grave," she said.
The sentence handed down by District Judge William Bain angered Mountjoy's supporters, who expected him to get eight or nine years in prison.
Another Fort Carson sergeant and Iraq War veteran, John Burrell, was convicted in April of the same charges as Mountjoy and was also acquitted of a murder charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 29.
A third defendant, Eric Bartholomew, pleaded guilty to manslaughter after prosecutors dropped a murder charge. His sentencing is also set for Aug. 29.
The fourth defendant, Carlos Ford, is scheduled to go on trial on a murder charge in July.
Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com