GLASGOW – A Barren County man who admitted guilt in a deadly 2018 shooting was ordered Thursday to spend 30 days in jail, followed by another 11 months on home incarceration.
Bobby Conatser was sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of second-degree manslaughter.
Conatser, 55, of Glasgow, previously admitted in court to shooting Kevin M. Miller, 40, of Scottsville, on July 8, 2018.
Miller was shot once in the back and was unarmed at the time of the shooting. His body was found on Lick Branch Road about a half mile from Conatser’s home.
Miller was on a motorcycle traveling away from the home when the shooting occurred, and Conatser had prior issues with Miller trespassing on his property, court records said.
Miller was also in a relationship with Conatser’s daughter that was marked by domestic violence, according to testimony at Thursday’s hearing.
Conatser was arrested initially on a charge of murder but reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that reduced the charge to second-degree manslaughter.
The plea agreement Conatser reached with Barren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Gardner called for him to serve a 10-year sentence, the maximum for second-degree manslaughter, but Barren Circuit Judge John Alexander imposed an alternative sentence after a two-hour hearing Thursday.
Alexander said from the bench that he agonized over what sentence to impose on Conatser, who had no prior criminal record.
Under state law, a defendant convicted of an offense involving the use of a firearm is eligible for probation if the victim of the offense had been engaged in acts of domestic violence against either the defendant or a defendant’s relative.
“It’s very difficult to know what the right thing is to do ... to probate somebody outright in a case like this would not give the respect that the (Miller) family’s loss deserves, but I don’t see how anybody benefits by giving (Conatser) so many years to serve with no chance to contribute to society,” Alexander said.
Gardner argued that the 10-year sentence reached in the plea agreement should be imposed, saying that placing Conatser on probation would unduly depreciate the serious nature of the crime.
“We have a situation where a man lost his life because of the actions of Bobby Conatser,” Gardner said. “Bobby took the life of Mr. Miller and was unjustified in doing so. ... He took the rule of law into his own hands.”
Miller’s daughter, Annika Miller, read from a victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing.
“It is impossible to explain in words the pain I’ve gone through the past three years and the pain I will continue to experience the rest of my life,” Annika Miller said. “Why were you unable to stop yourself from doing such a terrible thing ... my children are left without a grandfather.”
Questioned by Gardner, Annika Miller said she believed Conatser did not deserve probation.
Conatser’s attorney, Johnny Bell, called seven witnesses to testify on his behalf.
Conatser’s daughter, Emily Conatser, testified about being in a relationship with Kevin Miller on and off for about four years, and being a victim of domestic violence “almost every day” for most of the relationship’s duration.
Questioned by Bell, Emily Conatser admitted using drugs with Kevin Miller and said her father and other family members were aware of the domestic violence.
“Everybody else was scared, they knew what he did to me,” Emily Conatser said.
Todd Holmes, Bobby Conatser’s brother-in-law, testified that he was aware of prior threats that Kevin Miller had made to the Conatser family and that Kevin Miller had trespassed on the property on previous occasions and was violent with Emily Conatser, prompting relatives to call law enforcement numerous times.
A number of Bobby Conatser’s co-workers also testified to his character, saying he should be placed on probation.
Bell argued that Kevin Miller “stalked” the Conatser family for four years, scaring Emily Conatser and other family members.
“If someone had come to my house and beat my daughter up, I’d be right here,” Bell said. “In my opinion ... this family was tormented. I do believe you have a God-given right to protect your family and your own home. ... Mr. Conatser has not had any criminal history that I’ve known of throughout his life. I don’t see any benefit by putting him in jail.”
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.