Little Creek resident Harold Stutler, 67, was sentenced to home confinement today by Circuit Judge David Nibert. Stutler had plead guilty to second degree attempted murder, after shooting at his brother-in-law Richard Starcher in 2003.

Nibert initially indicated he felt Stutler should be sentenced one-to-three years in prison, but after pleading from the plaintiff's attorney Tony Morgan, he agreed to home confinement.

Nibert said he considered an opinion he had read which said we should not send people to prison because we are mad at them, but because we fear them.

Prosecuting Attorney Matt Minney asked Nibert to sentence Stutler 1-3 years based on Stutler's "intent to kill a man." Minney said a lesser sentence would not be appropriate. "The nature of the problem (caused by a lesser sentence) would be a very disturbing signal to the community," he said.

Teresa Starcher, wife of the victim, said "I think this is a bad precedent over a really serious crime, where he (Stutler) is receiving few consequences. Where is the justice?"

During the sentencing hearing a report regarding the status of Stutler was discussed, indicating it was favorable to Stutler. He showed remorse, lacked a criminal history, served his country and demonstrated a work ethic.

Attorney Morgan told the court many citizens wanted to speak on behalf of Stutler. "He has made complete restitution," indicating his client had been willing to settle a civil disagreement over property, but "Starcher had changed his mind." Pleading for Stutler, attorney Morgan said "We are not saying he didn't commit a crime ... When it came down to it, he didn't kill Richard."

"He (Stutler) has done everything he was supposed to do," said Morgan. "He's an honest man."

Judge Nibert agreed the report indicated Stutler was not likely to commit the crime again, but he had reservations regarding whether the good of the public was being served.

Morgan pointed out that if Stutler violates the terms of home confinement, he will go to prison.

A status review of the case will be conducted on September 8.

Stutler was charged after an ambush-like shooting on the remote Ace Haney Hill at the head of Little Creek, firing his shotgun three or four times at Starcher as he drove by in his truck.

Starcher received some injuries and was taken to the hospital. His truck was hit in several places.

Stutler and Starcher had been in a family dispute over property rights for over a year. At issue was a small section of property adjacent Starcher's garage, in which Starcher did automotive repair.

Stutler is a well known Calhoun hunter, fisherman, trapper and herb digger. He has operated a root buying business at his residence for many years.

Starcher, who previously operated a repair garage, is married to Teresa Stutler Starcher, local writer and contributor to the Hur Herald.


- 4/14/04 "Views Differ On Mountain Man Stutler"

- 4/13/04 "Stutler Sent For 60-Day Evaluation"

- 2/25/04 "Stutler Pleads Guilty To Second Degree Attempted Murder"

- 8/20/03 "Stutler Charged With Attempted Murder"