Man who killed unhoused woman with pellet gun gets five years in prison: ‘Her life mattered’ | San Diego

A 19-year-old who fatally shot an unhoused woman with a pellet gun in southern California was sentenced to five years and eight months in state prison on Thursday.

William Innes pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the killing last May of Annette Pershal, 68, who was living on the streets of San Diego and nicknamed “Granny Annie”. The case sparked national outrage after prosecutors reported that Innes had texted a group chat saying he was going “hobo hunting”.

Annette Pershal, left, and her daughter, Brandy Nazworth. Photograph: Courtesy of Brandy Nazworth

Innes’s co-defendant, 19-year-old Ryan Hopkins, pleaded guilty last year to aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to one year in jail. Police and prosecutors say that Hopkins drove Innes to the spot where Pershal had been camping, and that Innes fired multiple rounds at the woman with a pellet gun, hitting her in the head, leg and torso. Pershal, who was well-known in the neighborhood, was found unconscious and transported to a hospital, where doctors discovered she had been shot. She died several days later.

Brandy Nazworth, Pershal’s daughter, who attended the sentencing hearing, said in an interview on Friday that she felt the five-year sentence was appropriate: “Trying to understand this situation is impossible. I’m never really going to get closure, and none of it is going to make sense. It was a bad decision [Innes] made, but it shouldn’t affect his whole life.

“My mom always told me two wrongs don’t make a right,” she continued. “And me hoping for the worst for him isn’t going to bring me any more closure.”

Nazworth traveled to San Diego from Louisiana, where she lives, so she could share her mother’s story at the hearing: “I want to make sure she is remembered.”

In her victim impact statement, Nazworth said her mother’s friends had called her the “queen of Serra Mesa”, a reference to her San Diego neighborhood: “She had a great sense of humor, an infectious smile, and was a human library of San Diego history and stories.”

She also recounted the ways her mother had helped others on the street, giving her umbrella away to a young unhoused woman during a rainstorm, saying: “When a man ran out of gas in front of the sidewalk she slept on, she gave him some of her food money so he could get home. And she was grateful for every little thing that people did for her.”

After her death, two dozen people showed up for her memorial and left flowers at the spot of her killing, Nazworth said: “She was a person, not just a thing to be used for target practice. Her life mattered to me and my kids and her friends.”

Annette Pershal, left, with Annette’s mother, in an undated photo. Photograph: Courtesy of Brandy Nazworth

Nazworth addressed some of her remarks to the defendant, saying: “I have no words for how angry and sad I am. But as a mother, I am not looking for revenge and take no joy in the harm you have done to yourself and your family. My only prayer and hope is that my mother did not suffer and die for nothing. The only good that can come from this senseless tragedy is if you use it to become a better man. She may have looked like just a dirty homeless person to you, but she was still my mom and the grandmother to my kids.”

She also recalled her mother’s many struggles, including losing her home and possessions, suffering the deaths of close friends, the sudden passing of her boyfriend and worsening arthritis – all of which contributed to her alcoholism. Nazworth said: “Alcohol use disorder is a serious disease … like cancer. Would you shoot a cancer patient with a pellet gun for fun?”

Nazworth added that she had tried many times to get her mother to live with her in Louisiana, “but she just couldn’t imagine leaving the neighborhood she grew up in and we couldn’t force her to go. She had a lot of friends, and her neighborhood was all she had left of the happier life she remembered.”

She also noted that local agencies had not been able to help her mother find appropriate housing.

Lawyers for both teenagers have sought to shift blame on to their co-defendants in court, but Innes’s lawyer said on Thursday that his client was “being punished appropriately”.

In court, Innes addressed the victim’s family, NBC 7 San Diego reported, saying: “I can’t change what happened, but I wish I could. That’s the only thing I can say that hopefully will make you feel better about what happened, which it probably never will.”

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *