WARREN - A 34-year-old Niles man was sentenced to 11 years behind bars Tuesday for his role as an accomplice in an attempted burglary in which his friend was shot to death by the homeowner.
Michael Burns offered a brief apology to Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan, who merged sentences on charges of attempted aggravated burglary and involuntary manslaughter for a total of 11 years.
A jury in Logan's courtroom in December discarded an option of finding Burns guilty of murder, which could have meant a life sentence with parole eligibility after 15 years.
The manslaughter charge carried a maximum penalty of 11 years and the burglary charge eight years.
Assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker had asked for 19 years and that the charges not be merged for sentencing in a memorandum he filed with the court.
Burns and another man were with their friend Terry Allen when he was killed July 12 by a shotgun blast through the front door of the Niles Cortland Road home of Roy Hahn, 41, who was cleared by authorities.
The trio and two women planned to steal copper from the home to sell for money to go to the Trumbull County Fair, according to testimony. The three men entered a nearby house first and found no copper, so they moved on to Hahn's house.
Hahn told jurors about being awakened after midnight and noticing at least two men running from the back door to his front door. He said he heard the obvious noises of someone trying to pry their way into the home.
He said he feared for his life. He retrieved the shotgun he normally uses to hunt deer and fired one blast from the 16-gauge through the wooden door, and called police afterward.
Besides killing Allen, the blast hit Burns in the upper right arm. He never sought medical attention until at least a week after he was arrested by U.S. marshals after hiding out in Carroll County.
In May of 2004, Austintown police said Burns suffered a gunshot wound to a leg during what was described as a ''drug deal gone bad'' in the parking lot of a Burger King there.
Burns was sentenced to two years in prison for trafficking drugs in Mahoning County later in 2004. He did 16 months in prison for burglary in 2002 out of Mahoning County.
And earlier last year, Burns served 15 days in jail for criminal trespass and theft.
Allen's wife, another woman and another suspected male accomplice face the same murder charges as Burns did originally. Their cases are pending.