Apr. 7—JANESVILLE — Rock County Judge John Wood sees a lot of different cases, but he said it's hard to find any more serious than those involving a loss of life.
Everyone who spoke Wednesday in Rock County Court agreed that Corvasie S. Weaver should go to prison for fatally shooting James C. Chestnut III, 40, outside a house party in Janesville in January 2020.
"I regret everything from that night. I'm very remorseful for what happened that night. I wish I could take it back, but I can't," Weaver said. "That decision I made, I have to live with the consequences. I'm willing to accept my fate, whatever that may be, because I was wrong."
His lawyers pointed to his history in the military and his upbringing in foster care as important context about his character and how he got to be in a position to shoot Chestnut after a fight at the party.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Bricco said the judge should consider other context. She said Weaver had a violent history that included domestic abuse, and she said he never adequately took responsibility for his actions—in this case or in others.
Wood elected to split the difference between the prison terms recommended by each side and sentenced Weaver to 10 years in prison. The judge also ordered the 25-year-old Janesville father of four, whose own kids are in foster care like their father was, to serve 10 years of supervision after his release.
Weaver, of 613 W. Racine St., pleaded guilty Jan. 26 to a reduced homicide charge—second-degree reckless homicide—as part of a plea agreement.
That argument at the party reportedly started over the gathering running out of alcohol.
Bricco, the prosecutor, argued that Weaver did not take responsibility for the shooting because he fled the area. Authorities found him in Tennessee nearly three months after the shooting.
She said it wasn't fair to call this shooting a "mistake."
"Shooting off eight to 10 rounds and then shooting in the direction of a human being is not a mistake," she said. "He made a reckless choice that night, an impulsive choice that is consistent with his violent behavior in the past."
She said she couldn't refer to Chestnut by name because of Marsy's Law, but she said he should be remembered as more than a generic "victim."
Defense attorneys Jason Sanders and Ryan O'Hara conceded that Weaver was wrong to shoot and kill Chestnut, but they said the history between the two was important context to consider.
Sanders said Weaver knew Chestnut to be "a violent and dangerous person" who had before bragged about having a gun and was physically "built like a Division 1 linebacker." Chestnut also punched Weaver during the fight at the party, the lawyer said.
Sanders said Weaver believed that Chestnut was going to grab a gun and start shooting.
"He was wrong," the lawyer said. "And that fact that he was wrong makes everything terrible and unnecessary. But he wasn't crazy in believing what he believed."
O'Hara said Wood could be assured that Weaver would not return to his court for another crime in the future.
Weaver apologized for his actions, saying he wished he could take it all back.
He said he was wrong, "plain and simple."
He asked the victim's family to forgive him, even if it took time for them to reach that point.
"I know I wasn't raised this way," he said after also apologizing to his mother. "I'm going to take this time to make myself better so that way I can live a more righteous life with more integrity."
This story was updated at 4:48 p.m. Wednesday with more details from the sentencing hearing.