An Illinois man pleaded guilty and was sentenced today to up to 10 years in prison in connection with the shooting of a Sabula man in the stomach outside of a Sabula bar last November.
David P. Zabransky, 47, of Palatine, Ill., originally was charged with attempted murder, a Class C willful injury charge and a charge of going armed with intent, which carry prison terms of up to 25 years, 10 years and five years, respectively.
Instead, as part of a plea agreement accepted this morning by Jackson County District Court Judge Paul Macek, Zabransky pleaded guilty to the lesser included offense of Class D willful injury with intent to commit bodily injury, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years, and going armed with intent. The attempted murder charge was dropped as part of the agreement.
The charges stem from a Nov. 22, 2009, fight outside a bar in the 400 block of Pearl Street in Sabula. When making his plea today, Zabransky admitted he used a shotgun retrieved from a vehicle to injure Sheldon Woodhurst, of Sabula, after Woodhurst and Zabransky’s friend got into a fight.
Both Woodhurst and Zabransky were airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for medical treatment after the fight.
Zabransky’s attorney, Murray Bell, said Zabransky had considered using a defense of justification and intoxication, but decided to abandon that plan and plead guilty.
Zabransky’s two five-year terms will be served consecutively, and he was fined $750 on both counts. He also has to submit DNA, pay $12,738 to the Victim’s Compensation Fund and pay restitution, which has yet to be determined.
Carla Woodhurst, Sheldon Woodhurst’s wife, made a victim impact statement prior to sentencing, telling the defendant that his actions had changed the lives of her family forever. She said Sheldon will never regain use of stomach muscles, was unable to eat or drink for 2 1/2 months after the shooting, has more surgeries to undergo and hasn’t been able to work.
“We did nothing to deserve this,” she said to Zabransky.
While Zabransky did not want to comment prior to sentencing, Bell said his client’s behavior was an anomaly and that he’d had only one contact with the law prior to this incident — a speeding ticket in 2005.
“He does feel remorse,” Bell said, adding that Zabransy made a terrible choice and was ready to pay for it.
One slight bump in the proceedings happened after the judge asked for a list of establishments and residences where Zabransy had been drinking prior to the fight. Bell provided that list — which included a residence in Whiteside County, Ill., a bar in Savanna, Ill., another home near Savanna, and two bars in Sabula — but there was some confusion when the judge asked Zabransky to confirm that he would honestly and truthfully testify in court if any civil actions were filed, such as a lawsuit.
When that confirmation was not given, the judge said if it was not provided by the defendant, he would refuse to accept the plea agreement, and had at one point mentioned that Zabransky’s sentence was light and that he would have had no trouble giving him a stiffer sentence if that was an option.
After a discussion with this client, Bell confirmed he would comply. Zabransky then was handcuffed and immediately sent to prison. He has 30 days in which to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.