Staring at the damage done — and contrasting it with the defendant's age — Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall struggled.
Randall said he was so disturbed by 17-year-old Josh Provencher's actions in the shooting and paralysis of Omaha barber Kerry Baker that he ordered a mental evaluation of Provencher.
Randall was even more disturbed when the evaluation came back. The only thing it turned up was that Provencher abused alcohol and marijuana.
“I was really hoping something would be found,” Randall said before sentencing Provencher last month. “Then we could have some logic for what you did.”
Provencher's attorney, Sean Conway, described a young man who had no father figure and little parental guidance, who abused alcohol and marijuana daily from the age of 13 and had started to dabble in other drugs. He grew up in a “rotten neighborhood” and, because of his slight build — 5-foot-11, 165 pounds — got beat up a lot, Conway said. He committed his first crime, shoplifting, at age 12, and later dropped out of school and became a gang member.
As he walked into court last month, Provencher's face lit up. The teen smiled at friends and family. He earnestly told the judge the shooting “wasn't intentional” — a contention prosecutor Jim Masteller disputed.
“I just hope the family forgives me,” Provencher said. “I'm sorry. I really and truly am.”
The judge said he saw little remorse in Provencher — and even less awareness of the ruin he had caused. Randall sentenced Provencher's accomplice, 20-year-old Raymond A. Nash, to 18 to 20 years in prison.
He then turned to Provencher.
“You destroyed not only the life of Mr. Baker,” Randall said, “you destroyed his wife's life. ... I have no choice.”
The judge announced the term: 45 to 95 years in prison.
With parole, Provencher won't be eligible for release until he is 44 years old.
Without parole, he won't be released until he's 70.