By AMY LINDBLOM
Kristopher McDaniel wept yesterday in court as he told Jennifer Coons' father he was sorry he killed her.
"This was an accident, it wasn't intentional," McDaniel said, "I am, I am, I am, I am truly sorry."
"I can accept that," responded David Coons.
In a plea bargain reached earlier this month, McDaniel pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and manufacturing methamphetamine. Yesterday, he was sentenced to 16 years and four months in prison for killing his girlfriend in December at their Big Hill residence.
McDaniel, 31, had been charged with murder, manufacturing methamphetamine, possessing a controlled substance and stolen property, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Had a jury convicted him of all charges, he would have faced 40 years in prison. Through the plea bargain, he will serve at least 13 years before he is eligible for parole.
Marsha Coons, the victim's mother, lives in Sonora but did not attend the Tuolumne County Superior Court hearing yesterday because she was too upset, a county victim-witness advocate said.
Before McDaniels was formally sentenced, Coons' father and stepmother read statements. As McDaniel listened, he hung his head and looked at the table in front of him, his cropped, graying hair revealing a Swastika tattooed on the back of his head.
"Why didn't you call 911 or take her to the hospital yourself?" David Coons asked. "Those precious seconds could have saved her life.
"This case will never be over for me. I hope you suffer every day of your life the way Jennifer suffered."
Shirley Coons came from Reno with her husband to attend the hearing. She said the family will never know if Jennifer could have turned her life around after getting involved with drugs and "the wrong element."
After Coons' family spoke, McDaniel tearfully faced them and his own parents sitting behind them. He said that while he started to drive Coons to the hospital after shooting her once with a .22 caliber handgun, he panicked and fled.