Jamestown man sentenced to 20 years in 2018 shooting death
MAYVILLE — A Jamestown man will spend at least the next two decades in prison for the July 2018 shooting death of William J. Michishima.
David F. Waggoner received an indeterminate sentence of 20 years to life in prison Monday in Chautauqua County Court by Judge David Foley. The city man was found guilty in March on a charge of second-degree murder.
Waggoner, after hearing Foley’s ruling, was left emotional after learning he would spend at least 20 years in prison before he would be eligible for parole.
Prior to his sentencing, Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone read a prepared statement from Waggoner. In it, Waggoner depicted himself as a remorseful and apologetic man, but maintained that his actions were the result of him entering “survival mode.”
Foley, addressing Waggoner prior to announcing his decision, described the events leading up to Monday’s hearing as “tragic.” Foley said not only was Michishima taken away from his family, but Waggoner would be as well.
“I think that the court is right in what they indicated today as far as this being a very tragic incident,” Barone said.
Barone cited Waggoner’s commitment to his job, wife, his children and grandchildren, and lack of previous criminal convictions as reasons he wasn’t given the maximum sentence of 25 to life. Waggoner could have received sentences in the range of 15 to life and 25 to life. Barone viewed Foley’s 20 to life decision as “leniency.”
Barone said the defense submitted dozens of letters that showed support for Waggoner. He believed those submissions were successful in showing the court who Waggoner is separate from the July 24, 2018, incident.
“That’s reflective in the sentence that Judge Foley gave of 20 year to life,” Barone said. “I think that it shows leniency, and I think it does indicate some consideration for Mr. Waggoner and his life and some of the things he has done – some of the good things he has done. He certainly has done a bit of good, not only for his family, but for his community and other people.”
Waggoner shot Michishima July 24, 2018, on Livingston Avenue following an argument between the two men. Michishima, who was shot in the head, was transported to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa., where he died the following day.
Barone said the defense will file an appeal likely by Friday.
“As far as the sentence goes, it certainly could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a little better,” Barone said. “We’re thankful some consideration was given by the court. Secondly, obviously, we’ve indicated after the verdict that we will file a notice of appeal. We believe that there may have been several issues during the trial that were erroneous and that would be a basis for an appeal.”
In the courtroom Monday were Michishima’s mother Jessie and brother Joe. Swanson told The Post-Journal the two were “very happy” with the ruling.
“It’s a long journey for them,” Swanson said following the sentencing. “It’s a blip in our normal world. For them, it’s been almost a year.”
Before Foley ruled, Swanson read a written statement from Joe Michishima to the courtroom prior to Waggoner’s sentencing. The statement depicted Joe Michishima as a grieving family member who will never get to enjoy his brother’s presence again due to Waggoner’s actions on July 24.
“My baby brother, Billy, was murdered,” Joe Michishima’s statement read. “David Waggoner took my baby brother away from me. Billy’s assailant took Billy’s, my family’s and our friends’ plans and opportunities away.”
Near the end of the statement, Joe Michishima asked Foley for a fair and just sentence.
“Your Honor, take note what the evil of David Waggoner has done,” the statement continued. “Billy’s irreplaceable priceless life was stolen. Please let David Waggoner’s evil doing come before you and sentence accordingly. Let him fall into the hole he has made, let his devilry return upon his own head, on his own skull let his violence descend. Please repay him according to the work of his hands.”
Barone maintained throughout the trial that Michishima was the aggressor when he visited Waggoner at his Livingston Avenue home. Two witnesses described seeing the men fight before Michishima was shot in the head.
Despite not receiving the maximum 25 to life sentence, Swanson maintained satisfaction over Foley’s ruling. He said Michishima’s family knew the extent of the sentence and Waggoner’s age. Overall, Swanson said the prosecution and the family were comfortable with Foley’s ruling.
“There’s a range in the law for a reason the judge considered the appropriate factors and sentenced him to what he felt was according,” Swanson said. “We’re never upset with a sentence that’s lawful. There’s always reasons to get to the max but then there’s always reasons to consider to fall near the minimum and the judge considered all things he should’ve considered. I’m happy with the sentence.”