The parents of a teenage boy who was seriously injured when a friend shot him in the stomach in Millcreek Township in early 2020 told an Erie County judge on Wednesday that the shooter intended to take their son's life that January evening.
"By a miracle" the victim, Artem Dzhavakhyan, survived, his mother, Yelena Logvina, said.
Had there been another bullet in the gun that night, "my son wouldn't be here," Dzhavakhyan's stepfather, Stephen Trohoske, told Judge John J. Mead.
Dzhavakhyan, who his parents said is still suffering the physical and mental effects of the shooting, was 16 when Millcreek police charged Isaac C. Bruno, then 17, with shooting him.
Bruno, now 19, pleaded guilty in October to a first-degree felony count of aggravated assault under an agreement reached between prosecutors and his lawyer, Philip Friedman. The agreement included a recommended sentence of six to 15 years in state prison.
Bruno, in brief remarks in court on Wednesday, apologized to Dzhavakhyan and his family.
Friedman asked Mead to impose the recommended sentence.
Mead did so.
"This really is one of the most senseless crimes I've ever seen," the judge said before handing down the sentence.
The aggravated assault charge carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Millcreek teen pleads in shooting: Millcreek teen pleads guilty in shooting of friend; recommended sentence is 6-15 years
Investigators said Dzhavakhyan and Bruno were walking to Dzhavakhyan's house on West Lake Road, near Erie International Airport, on the evening of Jan. 16, 2020, when Dzhavakhyan was shot in a yard near his house.
Dzhavakhyan testified at Bruno's preliminary hearing in July 2020 that after the shooting, Bruno grabbed his legs and pulled him back as Dzhavakhyan attempted to crawl home, then went through his pockets and took his cell phone.
He said he eventually tricked Bruno into helping him home by telling Bruno that the shooting was accidental. Bruno left him at the back door of his residence and ran away after Dzhavakhyan's mother opened the door, Dzhavakhyan testified.
The bullet pierced Dzhavakhyan's liver, went through part of his small intestine and fractured two vertebrae, according to testimony at an earlier court hearing in the case. He underwent five hours of surgery and was hospitalized for a month, according to the testimony.
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Millcreek police charged Bruno as an adult in the shooting. He was jailed on $75,000 bond following his arraignment, but he was released from prison in early February 2020 after Friedman petitioned the court to lower the bond to a percentage and Bruno posted $7,500.
The $75,000 bond was reimposed in September 2020 after Erie County Judge David Ridge found that Bruno had violated a condition of bond that prohibited him from having contact with the victim and the victim's family. Prosecutors accused Bruno of sending Dzhavakhyan a Snapchat message.
Bond reimposed in Millcreek shooting: Bond reimposed for Millcreek teen charged in shooting
Bruno posted the higher bond in early October 2020, according to court records.
Friedman also petitioned the court in early 2021 to decertify the case to juvenile court rather than having it prosecuted in adult court. He argued that Bruno was immature and that he could still be rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system.
Mead denied the decertification, agreeing with prosecutors that factors including the seriousness of the offense and Bruno's prior record as a juvenile warranted his prosecution in adult court.
Juvenile court denied in Mck shooting: Juvenile court denied for teen charged with shooting 16-year-old in Millcreek
Logvina, Dzhavakhyan's mother, said in court Wednesday that what Bruno did to her son "shattered our lives forever." Dzhavakhyan did not address the judge.
Logvina said her son was loved by everyone, was a class clown, played sports and was artistic.
"All of this was killed and taken from us that night," Logvina told Mead.
The only reason Dzhavakhyan is alive, Logvina said, is because he fought so hard. There were days and days of praying and days and days of not knowing if he was going to live, she said.
Logvina said her son can't work or go to school, and he continues to deal with "the most intense" post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Our life was fully shattered because of his decision," she said. She said Bruno "showed no remorse, nothing. He just did what he wanted to do."
Trohoske, Dzhavakhyan's stepfather, told Bruno that he had threatened his son, and that when he fired the gun he intended to murder him.
"And it's been the most difficult thing in the world for me and my family," he said.
Assistant District Attorney Hillary Hoffman said the selfless and forgiving nature of Dzhavakhyan's family throughout the case is remarkable. She noted how his mother struggles with bathing her son and lifting him up so he can swallow.
Dzhavakhyan attempted to move out of his family's home and live on his own, but that didn't work out, Hoffman said. He's also dealing with his PTSD every day, she said.
Bruno "affected Artem for the rest of his life," Hoffman said.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Erie County shootings: Millcreek man sentenced for shooting teen friend