Highway Shooter Pleads Guilty

The so-called highway shooter changed his plea today and was sentenced to 27 years in prison. WOSU’s Howard Ornstein reports.

Charles McCoy Junior began sobbing as he apologized to the community and those gathered in Franklin county common pleas judge Charles Schneider’s courtroom.

First I’d like to say I’m sorry to the Knisely family for the loss I caused them sorry to Mrs. Cox, when they played that 9-1-1 tape I felt the pain and suffering, McCoy said.

Schneider accepted a joint recommendation by the prosecution and defense that McCoy change his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Gail Knisely and the attempted murder of several others. McCoy has admitted that he was the man who terrorized the central Ohio community for four months in late 2003 and early 2004 shooting at cars on highways, and at buildings. 63-year-old Gail Knisely was a passenger in a car being driven by her friend Mary Cox on the outerbelt in November 2003 when she was hit and killed by a bullet fired by McCoy. McCoy’s trial in may ended with a hung jury.

After the changed plea and just prior to sentencing, Knisely’s son Brent spoke for his family.

Mr. McCoy, we we hate what you did to my mother and all of us I could stand here for hours listening to all of the things that my father, my wife, my brother, all of her friends, and especially my two children you couldn’t possibly understand it, because you didn’t know her. We wish you no harm on what remains as the rest of your life. We can only hope you will come to terms with what you did, and seek forgiveness from God for it, Brent said.

Knisely’s best friend, Mary Cox left the courtroom in tears grateful that this part of her ordeal was over.

I lost my best friend just can’t forget her she just was everything to me. This part will be a closure for this part, yes but it won’t be closure for Gail and I’m glad he got 27 years, Cox said.

Ardith McCoy, the mother of Charles, was seen emotionally hugging one of the Knisely’s after the sentencing hearing…and she expressed the McCoy family’s apologies for her son’s actions.

I would like to apologize to the community, you know this was not our son who did this. I mean, our son is a very sweet, mild mannered person, and the mental illness and the noncompliance of medication, but we regret that this happened of course. We’re sorry the community, we’re sorry to all the victims who were scared on the freeways, and especially of course our hear goes out to the Kniselys, Mrs. McCoy said.

McCoy’s plea and sentencing is not the end of court action in this case. Jack Thompson, an attorney for the Knisely family, plans to file an action against manufacturers of violent video games that McCoy played prior to and during the shootings spree.

Our intent is to file a wrongful death action against those responsible for placing into the hand of Charles McCoy what amount to murder simulators, that have not just in this instance, but in other instances, resulted in these types of events. And I don’t say this with anything other than tragic sense of regret, that 5 months before Charles McCoy was even identified and then apprehended, I was on national TV identifying the very games that Charles McCoy ended up playing on which he rehearsed what he did, Thompson said.

The lawsuit against the video games makers must be filed by November 25th, the two-year anniversary of Gail Knisely’s shooting death.

McCoy must serve the full 27 year sentence. There is no chance for early release. With credit for time already served, McCoy could get out on March 17, 2031. Both the judge and the prosecutor have agreed to write letters for McCoy asking state officials to have McCoy serve his time in a facility where he could receive mental health treatment.

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