A Palmerton man, who fired a gun next to the head of his girlfriend as she laid on the floor, was sentenced to a Carbon County jail term on Tuesday.
Christopher M. Schaeffer, 36, was sentenced to serve six to one day less 24 months in prison by Judge David W. Addy on a charge of recklessly endangering another person. Schaeffer appeared before Addy for sentencing on three cases after previously pleading guilty to the charges.
Schaeffer was arrested by Palmerton police following an incident on Oct. 21, 2007.
Police responded to the scene of a reported domestic incident with a weapon at 148 Avenue A. Police learned that Schaeffer had fired a gun next to the head of his girlfriend, Cynthia Klager, then left the scene. He was later found and taken into custody.
Addy noted that the couple have had a stormy relationship. Police have been called to the residence on several occasions to quell disputes that had gotten out of hand.
Defense attorney Paul Levy said Schaeffer and Klager both have mental health issues. Levy said Schaeffer was intoxicated at the time and that Klager was having some kind of health issue when the incident occurred.
He said, "A tragedy was avoided that day, someone could have died."
Schaeffer told the court he has been addressing his alcohol problem and he and Klager have also been getting counseling for their mental health issues. Klager, who did not want to pursue the charges against Schaeffer but that request was rejected by the district attorney's office, told Addy that Schaeffer is a changed person.
Addy said he was still concerned about the welfare of Klager despite what he was being told.
Addy also sentenced Schaeffer on a charge of possession of a firearm without a license and a driving under the influence (DUI). The firearms charge stems from the underlying gun shooting incident.
On the firearms charge Addy imposed a prison term of one to 23 months but it runs concurrent to the first sentence.
Schaeffer was arrested for DUI on Jan. 24 along Avenue A in Palmerton. Given a test, the result was .17BAC.
On the DUI charge Addy sentenced Schaeffer to serve 72 hours to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000 and a one year license suspension. The prison term runs concurrent with the others.
Schaeffer was also ordered to continue his drug and alcohol treatment, get a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, both he and Klager attend family counseling sessions and pay court costs and a $50 monthly supervison fee.
He was given credit for one day in prison on the charges and will begin the jail term at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 28.