A 16-year-old Stevensville teen was sentenced Monday afternoon in the death of his mother’s boyfriend.
Police say Josh Smith got into a fight with 44-year-old David Loveland last September over a rumor involving Loveland and one of Smith's relatives. Smith beat the man to death.
Smith avoided the maximum sentence of 15 years. The sentence handed down to him was 365 days in jail, 4 years probation, the successful completion of an alternative program, 90 days with an electronic monitoring device, and a 9 p.m. curfew and required school attendance once released. He was also ordered to pay $3,826.10 in fines, court costs, fees and restitution.
Loveland's brother, James, said the teen's sentence seemed lenient.
Judge Sterling Schrock said he considered all the factors — the teen's trouble-free background, his age, and the fact that he beat a man to death.
The judge told Smith, this was a punishment and a chance to change his life.
“You're going to have to fight to get better. It's not going to be easy no matter what I do,” said Schrock.
Smith fought back tears but otherwise stood motionless in front of the judge.
In court, the prosecution argued for a tougher sentence. But the defense painted Loveland as the aggressor, even though the teen walked a mile to Loveland's home to confront him.
Smith had entered a plea of no contest to voluntary manslaughter. Prosecutors dropped the 2nd degree murder charge last month.
James told the judge Smith needs to be punished for taking a life. He also hopes the teen learns from his "poor choice."
“If he completes conditions he is facing, he has a chance at life,” said James. “I can't imagine the boy I know will be able to do that. I hope I'm wrong.”
Smith has already served 6 months in jail..