An Amherst man was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail for fatally shooting a lifelong friend in September 2011 when the friend tried to stop him from driving after several hours of drinking.
“I pray for God’s forgiveness for my actions,” said Adel McTier Jr., 69, of Sundown Trail, shortly before he was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang.
Prosecutors had sought a murder conviction. Instead, Wolfgang, who presided over McTier’s bench trial in September, found him guilty of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Alton L. Sease, 65, of Buffalo.
“There are no winners today,” Wolfgang said. “There’s two families that are devastated, and all these lives that have been affected. Mr. McTier’s best friend has died.”
She then addressed McTier.
“And as you have stated yourself, you’re going to have to live with the consequence of this for the rest of your life,” Wolfgang said.
McTier and Sease had spent hours drinking whiskey and beer together at Sease’s Colorado Avenue home in Buffalo. Sease was trying to prevent McTier from driving home to Amherst under the influence of alcohol, so he grabbed the keys from McTier’s SUV.
McTier, a retired plumber who regularly carried a handgun, pulled it from his jacket and shot Sease.
Defense attorney Joel L. Daniels successfully argued that McTier did not commit murder, saying McTier could not form intent to kill his friend because he was too intoxicated.
“As far as Adel is concerned, he has already punished himself,” Daniels said. “I say that because every minute, of every hour, of every day, he will never forget what he did. He killed his best friend.”
Prosecutor Gary W. Hackbush said there was no reason McTier should have armed himself with a gun as the two socialized.
“By arming himself on the evening of Sept. 15, he accepted the full responsibility that comes with gun possession, and that includes not consuming alcohol,” Hackbush said.
The two retirees talked every day and spent a lot of time together, as many as three or four days a week, often at Sease’s home.
“We were like brothers,” McTier said of Sease during the trial.
The two had known each other since their childhood days growing up in Baxley, Ga.
Both men served in the military, with McTier receiving a Purple Heart as a combat infantryman in the Vietnam War. The two reconnected in 1967 after their military service ended and both moved to Buffalo.
Before retiring, McTier worked three decades as a plumber, and Sease worked at General Mills.
Sease lived a full life, just like the defendant, Hackbush said.
“He was hardworking. He was a father, grandfather and friend,” he said.
“He cared about his friends, and he cared about this man,” Hackbush said, referring to McTier. “And sadly, it was that virtue that led the defendant to killing him.”
The judge called the sentencing difficult. McTier did not intend to kill his friend, but his reckless behavior resulted in Sease’s death, Wolfgang said.
She cited the Probation Department’s presentence report that concluded any sentence without incarceration would diminish the grievous loss and minimize the consequences of McTier’s actions.
“The court is trying to temper justice with mercy,” Wolfgang said, “and it is not easy.”