Joy pleads guilty in court

Neil Joy
Neil Joy

MEEKER I Neil James Joy pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter, a class IV felony in the shooting death of James “Jeb” Berthelson on or about Aug. 5, 2011. Joy also pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of firearm while he was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, which is a misdemeanor. Joy will be sentenced March 23.
Judge Denise Lynch accepted Joy’s pleas and questioned if he understood he was giving up his rights, including the right to a jury trial and Joy replied, “Yes, ma’am.” Joy is being defended by Gordon Gallagher and prosecuted by District Attorney Martin Beeson.
Joy said he understood that by pleading guilty to the manslaughter charge he could be sentenced to the Department of Corrections for a term of two years to six years and with extreme mitigating circumstances, the sentence could be a little as one year. With extreme aggravating circumstances, the sentence could be as much as 12 years and any sentence imposed may carry a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
Joy could be sentenced to the county jail for three months to 12 months and a $250 to $1,000 fine on the second count.
The plea agreement is contingent on Joy not committing any criminal offenses between the offense date and sentencing date. A positive urinalysis for a controlled substance constitutes a criminal offense.
The district attorney has made no sentence concessions other than to agree to recommend the sentencing be open, that Joy is to be sentenced within the presumptive ranges and the prosecution will not pursue aggravating circumstances  for the purpose of moving any sentencing into the aggravated range. The defendant also agrees to pay restitution, fines, fees and court costs as ordered by the court.
A “gag order” has been placed on all parties involved.
A pre-sentencing investigation will now take place by a probation officer, who will investigate Joy’s criminal, employment and education history. That report will be given to the judge.
Joy will be sentenced March 23 at 1 p.m.