A judge delivered a lesser conviction of second-degree manslaughter Thursday to an Amherst man who fatally shot a lifelong friend when the friend tried to stop him from driving after several hours of drinking.
The victim's son offered the compassion.
"We don't hate him or anything," Burt Williams, of Buffalo, said of Adel McTier Jr., 69, of Sundown Trail, Amherst.
McTier was on trial in the Sept. 15, 2011, fatal shooting of Alton L. Sease, 65.
"I don't think it was his intent," Williams said of McTier's role in his father's death. "It was a tragedy."
McTier was accused of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting outside Sease's home on Colorado Avenue in Buffalo. Sease was trying to prevent McTier from driving home to Amherst under the influence of alcohol when McTier shot him, the prosecutors and defense lawyers said.
The two had spent hours drinking whiskey and beer, first at a bar and then later at Sease's home.
Prosecutors said McTier pulled a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver from his jacket and shot Sease in the chest after Sease had taken McTier's car keys from the ignition of his 2002 Cadillac Escalade.
"If he wasn't drunk, it wouldn't have happened," said defense lawyer Joel L. Daniels.
State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang, who presided over the bench trial, said she considered the testimony of McTier, a neighbor eyewitness and police investigators, as well as others, in reaching the verdict.
McTier faces as many as 15 years in prison, but he could also avoid prison altogether and just be placed on probation.
McTier is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6. Until then, he will remain free on bail.
Defense lawyers had asked the judge to convict McTier of a lesser offense, such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, while prosecutors argued that the man's drinking at the time of the fatal incident should not entitle him to such a break.
Before retiring, McTier worked for three decades as a plumber, and Sease worked for 40 years at General Mills.
"The last thing one of them would ever have wanted to do is hurt the other," Daniels said.