Dustyn Wood, 28, the man convicted of shooting two Mt. Sterling men in March of this year, will spend the next 39-plus years in prison, following Friday’s hearing in Madison County Common Pleas Court.
It took the jury of three men and nine women less than an hour of deliberation to reach a guilty verdict on Wednesday.
Wood was tried on two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, and one count of aggravated robbery. Each of the charges carried with it a firearms specification.
Wood was also determined guilty of possessing a weapon under disability and being a violent offender by Judge Eamon Costello as part of a separate trial to the court.
Joe Edwards, Wood’s lead defense counsel, argued that knowing about the repeat violent offender specifications and the possession of a weapon under disability might bias the jury against his client. Wood, who has spent much of his adult life in prison, has a lengthy criminal history — including felonious assault against a Fayette County peace officer.
The charges grew out of an incident occurring some time around 4:30 a.m. on March 15 in what Prosecutor Steve Pronai called “a drug deal gone bad.”
Wood and drug buddy Shayne Detweiler were driven to an apartment inhabited by Joshua Sollars and Aaron Kirk located at 7 E. Columbus St. in Mt. Sterling hoping to score some crystal meth. According to the testimony of Detweiler, Kirk, Sollars, and the driver, Jeffrey Dunaway, at some time during the transaction, Wood decided he’d rather just take the stash of narcotics without paying and proceeded to shoot Sollars and Kirk in the stomach.
Sollars’ bullet passed straight through, while Kirk’s entered his belly and out before passing through his right arm.
In his closing argument, Edwards did his best to muddy up the waters in the minds of the jurists, calling all those involved in the incident “pirates on a pirate ship,”and painting each person’s testimony as self-serving and questionable.
Edwards also called into question the limited physical evidence, particularly the placement of a shell casing that was later found under a dish strainer in the kitchen (the room where the deal was taking place). He argued that the casing could not have been found where it was if Wood was indeed the shooter, given the relation to where Wood was supposedly standing according to witness testimony.
He questioned how the shell casing would have ejected from the gun given the testimony of Det. Kelly Sparks of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
In rebuttal, Pronai stated there were two shots and two shell casings.
“Everyone said the same thing,” Pronai said. “He (Wood) was the one with the gun.”
Despite the victims’ behavior, they didn’t deserve to be shot, Pronai concluded.
Security continued to be tight during Friday’s sentencing — and needed to be, according to Sheriff Jim Sabin.
There was evidence that Wood had been hatching escape plans. There was also evidence that he had threatened witnesses — both directly and indirectly while in jail.
Wood first ran afoul of the law at age 13. He continued on a criminal path and was convicted as an adult at age 16 and imprisoned for 11 years.
During that 11-year stint, Wood racked up four-plus pages of institutional infractions, including assaults and contraband smuggling, according to Judge Costello.
Referring to his time in prison, Wood said: “I never assaulted staff. I did assault inmates — I had to. It’s just the law of the land.”
Wood was released from prison two months prior to the incident in Mt. Sterling.