Man gets up to 30 years in prison
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio said Monday if he had to try Joshua Shannon, 24, of Altoona for attempted first-degree murder of a family friend, he would tell the jury that “this is a case that doesn’t make any sense.”
But Consiglio was taking about the Shannon case after learning he won’t have to prosecute it before a jury.
Shannon, 24, of Altoona decided to accept a plea agreement in which he will spend as many as 30 years behind bars for shooting a Coupon man twice in the head.
Shannon, on Aug. 29, 2013, was charged with luring Mervin Lee Sollenberger, whom he had known since he was a child, into a wooded area not far from the victim’s Coupon home.
The assailant had gone to Sollenberger’s home for help, stating his truck was stuck in the woods, and he needed assistance.
Sollenberger got dressed that evening and drove Shannon on his ATV toward the location where the disabled truck was supposed to be.
According to Consiglio, the murder was so well-planned that Shannon convinced Sollenberger to take a shortcut.
Then he suddenly told Sollenberger to stop because he had dropped his cellphone.
But, instead of picking up a phone, he picked up a gun he had planted and shot Sollenberger twice, in the face and head.
Initial reports said he also hit Sollenberger across the nose and face with some type of club.
The wounded older man was able to fight back and eventually drive away, back to his home where Logan Township Police were called.
The District Attorney said the prosecution had many witnesses that placed Shannon at the scene and that the commonwealth’s case was strong.
But, Consiglio also said after the hearing before President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva, he didn’t know of any motive for the incident.
Possibly there was some type of hangover from a long-ago family feud, said Consiglio, but he said the opening address he planned for the jury, if the case went that far, was to sum it up by saying the attempt to kill didn’t make any sense.
Shannon did not enlighten the court as to a motive. He was asked by the judge if he had anything he wanted to say. He didn’t. He also didn’t apologize.
The investigating police officer after the hearing could offer no motive for the violent interlude.
And, Shannon’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson, said he
couldn’t discuss the motive.
Kopriva sentenced Shannon to 10-30 years in a state correctional institution on charges of attempted criminal homicide-first degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The shooting also came as a shock to the victims.
The Sollenbergers did not attend Monday’s hearing, but each submitted letters to the judge.
Sollenberger wrote that his life has been a “living hell” since Josh Shannon shot him in the head and face.
He has undergone two surgeries and still has a bullet lodged in his jaw.
He said he suffers “terrible headaches” and has constant ringing in his right ear.
He said the pressure on his face at times is unbearable.
Sollenberger said he also is going through “emotional turmoil.”
He said he constantly looks out the window now in fear, and he has lost all trust in people because he was shot by a young man, he said, to whom he “felt like a grandpap.”
“I realize I never knew him,” Sollenberger said.
Pam Sollenberger had a similar reaction, stating she was always trusting and outgoing. Now she is in fear when she leaves her home.
She said that fateful night her husband never thought twice about helping Shannon when he came to the home.
Mrs. Sollenberger wrote in her victim impact statement that, “I tried to have sympathy for Josh,” but he turned out to be “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Mrs. Sollenberger stated she hopes Shannon gets the help he needs in prison.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.