RILEY TWP., Mich. (WJBK) - A 21-year-old old man shooting target practice was sentenced to jail time on Thursday after a stray bullet flew through the window of a neighbor's home and killed her.
Michael Vultaggio of Sterling Heights was sentenced to three months in jail with a work pass and probation in the death of 73-year-old Shirley Pfeil. He is also required to complete community service and is banned from owning or using any firearms.
Police say on March 25, Pfeil was having coffee with her husband at the kitchen table after church when a bullet came flying into her home in the 13000 block of Dunn Road in Riley Township.
Her husband said he heard a loud crack and she collapsed, then died at the hospital. Police say Vultaggio was shooting at a berm on his nearby property.
In May, Vultaggio pleaded guilty to careless discharge of a firearm resulting in death, a 2-year felony; and lying to a police officer, a 1-year misdemeanor.
She was a vibrant, young woman at the age of 73, Pfeil's son said in court.
"Every moment of my life -- everything changed. Words can't explain," he said.
She was lively, he said. She planned on living until 100.
"To be that careless and wreckless, that's what I'm having a hard time dealing with."
But after it all, Pfeil's son said if Vultaggio was sincerely as sorry as he said he is -- all they want is for him to never own a gun again.
"Why ruin his life over an accident?"
Vultaggio then spoke, expressing how much sorrow and remorse he feels for what happened.
"Knowing that I took the life of someone has been a heavy burden to carry," he said.
He says he's fired thousands of shots from that spot, and never imagined someone could get hurt.
Before handing down his sentence, St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Kelly read a note from Pfeil's husband -- together 36 years, never apart.
"She was such a beautiful person, I miss her so much," he wrote.
But in the end, he too said he could not hate Vultaggio for what happened.
"It's only hurt and pain on my side. I know that he did not do this on purpose," he wrote.
Handing down a three-month sentence, Judge Kelly said jail time was necessary to show that using firearms carelessly has consequences.