It is a tragedy for two families--the Gueringers now three years without their son Daniel who was shot to death by Bryce Perkins at a Fourth of July weekend party in 2009. The Gueringers were in court as were family and friends of Perkins, who now begins his sentence of life in prison.
Perkins stood with his hands cuffed in front of him as he told the court he'd do anything if he could take back what happened the night Gueringer was shot and killed. Perkins told the court, "I know there's nothing I can ever do to bring Daniel back. I'd do anything in the world to take back what happened that night. There's no way I can prove it was an accident. I'm just so sorry they had to lose their son. I wish things would have gone differently that night. I'm sorry."
Earlier, Gueringer's mother, Sandra, addressed the court telling about the loss her family feels each day. She told the phone call she received July 5, 2009 when they learned Daniel had been critically wounded. "Within hours the doctor told us Daniel would not survive his injuries. The memories of that night have haunted me and my family for the past three years."
She told the court some of the young people who were there that night still suffer, perhaps having lost the feeling that they are safe in the community. She's says she will never forget the look on her father's face when he came to the hospital after Daniel was shot. Sandra Gueringer quoted her dad as saying, "Why did they do this?" She says her father's personality has never been the same.
As well, she talked about the incredible irony that the young Marine went to war and arrived home safely, only to be shot in his own hometown. She says she sometimes has difficulty falling asleep because she cannot stop the images from the night Daniel was killed.
Our family would like to thank our judicial system for bringing about justice today, for the taking of Daniel's life. Daniel was a loving son, and brother, and family member. He had many friends that loved him. He was a very productive part of our society who would have gone on to do so many more things. Our family feels the absence of Daniel everyday and we always will. And one of the hardest things now is to know he won't be a part of our future, that there won't be any grandchildren. He won't be here for his sister's children.
In sentencing Perkins Judge Ron Ware spoke of the tragedy and indescribable sadness. He also talked about guns saying he doesn't know why people think it's okay to pack a gun. "leave your guns at home," warned the judge saying they only invite "escalation and heartbreak."
Still, Gueringer family members say it's not guns they oppose. Said Jerome Gueringer,"I always want everyone to keep in mind that guns do not kill people. People kill people. You cannot take the guns away from the people who will do harm. The people who will do harm, will have guns. The honest people in society are the ones who may suffer from not having guns."
As well, family members hope the tragedy will remind young people to think before they act. There are consequences for violent actions. "They need to be responsible for actions. They need to think before they act. They have their whole life ahead of them," said Gueringer.
Though Ware formally imposed sentence, life in prison is mandatory for one convicted of second degree murder.
While the sentencing seems to end the final chapter in the case, Perkins' attorneys will pursue various legal issues on appeal and for what they call post conviction relief.