LOCKPORT – A State Supreme Court jury on Friday rejected the claim of Thomas M. Lasher that he shot a man in self-defense.
Lasher, 50, of Miller Road, Town of Niagara, faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced April 20 by Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., who ordered Lasher held in the Niagara County Jail without bail to await sentencing. The judge must impose a mandatory minimum of at least five years.
Before the trial, Lasher had rejected a plea offer that would have limited his prison term to 15 years with a mandatory minimum of 3½ years.
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated for about 75 minutes, including lunch, before convicting Lasher of attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
Lasher admitted shooting Douglas Walck, now 44, on the front steps of Walck’s trailer in the Expressway Village mobile home park in the Town of Niagara on New Year’s Eve 2014.
Walck was shot in the abdomen with a single slug from a 20-gauge, pump-action shotgun fired from a range of about 30 feet. He has undergone six surgeries because of the damage and subsequent infections, and has lost about 70 percent of his intestines.
Lasher went to Walck’s home to confront his wife, Kelly, who had left him a month earlier and moved in with Walck.
Lasher entered the home unarmed and was confronted by Walck, who said he pushed Lasher. The latter threw a punch, after which Walck punched Lasher in the face several times and shoved him down the front steps of the trailer home. Lasher broke his left leg in landing on the pavement.
Surveillance video cameras Walck had installed outside showed Lasher limping about 70 feet back to his van. After about 40 seconds inside, he returned and shot Walck, who came back onto the steps after seeing on the video monitor that Lasher was coming back.
The shooting itself is not on the videotape; the shotgun was fired while Lasher was standing in a blind spot between the ranges of two of the four cameras.
After being shot, Walck went back inside and locked the door. Lasher fired two more shotgun blasts, damaging the door, walls and a window, before deciding to go home.
Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann told the jury that’s what Lasher should have done after Walck threw him out.
“Doug has the right to protect himself in his own home,” Hoffmann said.
Defense attorney Robert M. Goldstein argued that Lasher was afraid for his life because Walck yelled at him after throwing him out, “If you come back, I’ll kill you.”
“With the threat, the stress is greater, the pain is greater,” Goldstein told the jury. “He doesn’t know if he can get away safely.”
Lasher testified Thursday he thought Walck was behind him after he was thrown down the steps, but the video shows otherwise.
“When he returns with the shotgun, he has speed and determination,” Hoffmann told the jury. “He wasn’t afraid. … He was there to get revenge. He wasn’t leaving until he did.”
Kelly Lasher left Walck after about a year and went back to her husband. She was not present for the verdict.