Ohio sniper pleads guilty, sentenced to 27 years

| 8/10/2005

A sniper who terrified drivers for five months along an Ohio highway pleaded guilty to manslaughter and 10 other charges this week. The plea was in exchange for prosecutors not seeking a second trial for murder, which could have resulted in the death penalty.

Charles McCoy, 29, admitted Tuesday, Aug. 9, that he had thrown wood and bags of concrete mix from highway overpasses and fired shots at traffic. One shot hit and killed Gail Knisely, a 62-year-old grandmother. The Associated Press reported that McCoy read a statement of apology in a Franklin County court before he was sentenced to 27 years in prison without parole.

According to Reuters, McCoy told Knisely’s family in court that he was sorry for not taking his medication, which had been prescribed beginning 10 years ago for schizophrenia.

During a trial earlier this year – which ended in a hung jury – psychiatrists said that toward the end of the shooting spree, McCoy believed firing from overpasses would make news media stop reporting about Michael Jackson.

That trial, which included a murder charge and 23 other counts, focused on whether McCoy knew his actions were wrong. The charges related to incidents beginning in 2003 and continuing into early 2004.

McCoy told doctors that television shows were mocking him and that voices in his head were calling him a “wimp.” He said his actions along Interstate 270 around Columbus, OH, were an attempt to silence the voices.

He was arrested in Las Vegas in March 2004 after his parents tipped off police.