DENVER - Two Towaoc residents are headed to prison after an alcohol-fueled shooting in November.U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer sentenced Mollett Lansing to 2½ years in prison and Jeremy Lehi to 18 months. Both pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to possession of a firearm by a felon.
Their separate hearings Friday both centered on the role of alcoholism and personal tragedies in their lives. Lansing had been convicted of several alcohol-related driving offenses, and Lehi had a long history in tribal courts.
"It's clear that Ms. Lansing has a severe alcohol problem," said Lansing's attorney, Brian Leedy.
Her brother died in jail when Lansing was 17, Leedy said, and almost everyone she knows struggles with alcohol.
According to court documents, Lehi stole a Marlin Model 25 .22-caliber rifle from a Utah friend on Nov. 1, 2008. He traded it to Lansing the next day for nine 40-ounce bottles of Old English malt liquor.
They drank and shot targets during the day, but began arguing and fighting. It ended when Lansing shot Lehi in the leg while he was in her carport. Leedy said it was in self-defense as Lehi was trying to break into her house. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Parker Norvell said prosecutors could not figure out exactly what happened and decided against charging Lansing with aggravated assault.
Lansing spoke briefly at her sentencing.
"I feel like I'm getting institutionalized because of my actions. Most of my adult life I've been in prison," Lansing said. "I do want to change."
After her sentence, she wants to move away from Towaoc and go to nursing school, so she can learn how to take better care of her sick mother, she told Brimmer.
Lehi and his siblings had been adopted by a non-Indian couple in Utah who have 10 children of their own. Lehi's birth parents are dead, and when he was a teenager, an aunt had him sent back to the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, where he bounced around in foster homes throughout his youth.
Lehi's adoptive father, Robert Allphin, testified Friday that in Utah, Lehi had been on his way to a high school degree, college and an Eagle Scout badge. He was a leader of his Scout patrol and got straight A's in elementary school before he moved back to Towaoc - something Brimmer mentioned after sentencing Lehi.
"You can't fake straight A's. You can't fake being a patrol leader. That's who you are," Brimmer said.
In addition to the prison sentences, Brimmer sentenced both Lansing and Lehi to three years of probation, including alcohol treatment programs.