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'Persistent offender' gets 20 years; Shot neighbor during dispute

An East Side man this week was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for firing six shots at a neighbor in a dispute over his mother's broken window.

Michael A. Ross, 43, was convicted in March of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns sentenced Ross as a persistent violent felony offender.

Ross stepped outside an East Side house April 6, 2011, with a .22-caliber rifle and fired six shots at Sean Lermineau, prosecutors said.

The first three shots missed, as did the last two. The fourth bullet struck a cellphone in the pocket of Lermineau's hoodie, damaging the cellphone but leaving only a welt on Lermineau's stomach, Lermineau testified in March.

"I'm wrongfully convicted," Ross said during Tuesday's sentencing. "It's not right."

Ross said he was defending himself and his family at the time of the shooting.

"My mother was the victim," he said.

There was no injury, Ross said. Not even the damaged cellphone was produced during the trial, he said.

The lack of a serious injury did not free Ross from culpability for trying to kill Lermineau, prosecutors said during his trial.

Prosecutor Michael P. Felicetta said Ross' criminal background, including a previous attempted robbery conviction, justified the long sentence.

"The only thing he can accomplish in his lifetime is to keep offending," Felicetta told Burns during the hearing.

"A jury of 12 has found him guilty," Burns said. "There was sufficient proof."

Ross has showed "complete denial of any responsibility for anything," as well as "complete disrespect" for the judicial system,the judge said.

email: plakamp@buffnews.com