Mueller gets minimum for killing dad

In Judge David Mackey's Yavapai County Superior courtroom, friends and family members of Mueller were on hand to testify for a scheduled pre-sentence hearing. Actual sentencing in this case was to have taken place Monday. But attorneys for both the defense and prosecution said they felt comfortable accelerating the sentencing portion of the case without the pre-sentence hearing.

Mueller spoke briefly during the change of plea proceedings Friday. The judge asked him to explain what happened.

"We were in an altercation, a fight," Mueller said. "I knew I had a loaded gun and I shot my father."

He also told the court that he had been consuming alcohol the day of the shooting which reportedly took place at the Mueller home Jan. 31, 2002.

According to court documents, a 911 hang-up call was received by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office from the Mueller residence at about 2:40 p.m. Deputies went to investigate and found the body of 47-year-old Donald Mueller.

According to the YCSO, medical examiners later determined he had died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head. At about 4:10 p.m. that day Josiah returned to the house. He was taken into custody but released in April 2002 on $75,000 bond.

After a short recess following Mueller's change of plea hearing, the court resumed for sentencing. John Sears, Mueller's attorney, spoke of the pain the family has gone through and how they have had to delay the grieving process until the case could be concluded.

"This has been a long and remarkably painful set of events for this family," Sears said.

He continued to remark on Mueller's growth and maturity. He called it, "astonishing." He said that the Mueller family will survive this and Josiah will come out of it fine.

"I can't remember a case in which my client literally grew up in front of me," Sears said.

Mueller spoke next and agreed with his lawyer. He told the judge that he has grown up a lot; he said his life has changed, too.

"It was a tragedy," Mueller said.

In considering the sentence, Mackey viewed a video that was filmed the day of the shooting. Mackey said that it showed Mueller was impaired by alcohol. The judge considered Josiah's state a mitigating factor in the case, or something to be looked at out of mercy and fairness when deciding the degree of a sentence.

Mackey found two other mitigating factors in the case. Mueller's lack of a criminal record and his young age were both considered.

The judge said he did not find any substantial aggravating factors in this case, but did not want that to diminish the emotional harm involved.

"This is a case in which alcohol and loaded guns ended in tragedy," Mackey said.

Mueller was sentenced to three years with credit for 76 days already served. He will be under community supervision for five months after his release. Mackey ordered no fines or restitution.

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