After a jury convicted Jeffrey Ziegler last month of assault with intent to do bodily harm and a felony firearm count for shooting at a Black teen in Rochester Hills, Mich., he was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison.
On Tuesday, Ziegler appeared in front of a judge at the Oakland County court, who sentenced him to a minimum of two years for each charge. The original charge, assault with intent to murder, would’ve carried a life sentence. Now he’ll be eligible for parole after four years.
Meanwhile, Lisa Wright, mother of Brennan Walker, the victim, said her son is in therapy indefinitely.
“This will affect my son forever,” she said.
“He almost took the life of another human being,” assistant prosecutor Kelly Collins said. “That will forever stay with Brennan — forever. His perception of strangers, his perception of other people, his perception of the world.”
Jeffrey Zeigler apologized before he was sentenced Tuesday in Oakland County court, and apologized to Wright, saying, “I have full remorse and regret and I wish I could change something, but we can’t go back in time.”
She doesn’t believe him. She told the judge she thinks Ziegler is sad because of the media attention.
As he was escorted out of the courtroom, Zeigler smiled and waved at his wife, and friends and relatives shouted, “We love you, Jeff.”
Ziegler and his wife clearly reacted to the teen’s race in the April 12 shooting. Ziegler referred to Walker in an interview with a sheriff’s deputy after the shooting as “that colored kid” at his front door; and his wife’s report to the police was, “A Black male was trying to break into her house and her husband chased after him into the yard.”
Ziegler lied and said he tripped and that’s what caused his gun to fire, when his own home security system video showed him pausing, taking aim and firing at the fleeing teen.
Walker, then age 14, had missed his bus to school that morning and came to the Zeigler’s door for help. After his wife screamed, Zeigler fired a shotgun at the teen, but missed him.
“I was scared,” Walker had testified in October. “I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren’t listening.”
Walker had literally run for his life. “I turned back and I saw him aiming at me… I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot,” he said on the stand.
Zeigler’s attorney Robert Morad, who said his client suffers from PTSD and injuries from being a Detroit firefighter for 23 years, said outside the courtroom,”We will be discussing a possible appeal.”
Meanwhile, Walker and his family don’t leave the house much anymore. “We moved to Rochester Hills to live in a better place, a safe place,” Wright said. “But, when a safer place doesn’t want you there, I don’t know how to process that.”