DANVILLE — Dr. Steven Hall, convicted Tuesday of second-degree manslaughter in the death of his wife in 2009, could be eligible for parole shortly after his sentencing Oct. 5.
A Boyle Circuit Court jury recommended Wednesday that Hall serve a five-year sentence, the lightest penalty for the crime, which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Pecker will make the final decision in October.
Under probation and parole guidelines, a person sentenced to five years is eligible for parole in one year.
Hall has served 15 months in the Boyle County jail, so he would be eligible for parole after he has been processed by the state Department of Corrections, Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms said.
Defense attorney Steve Romines said Hall "is a strong candidate for parole" because he has no previous convictions. Romines said he would ask the judge to probate the sentence so Hall could be released.
In many cases, judges do not grant probation because they say it will "unduly depreciate" the seriousness of the offense.
The jury convicted Hall, 48, late Tuesday night in the death of Isabel Hall, 49, who was struck by the Halls' pontoon boat on Herrington Lake. Steven Hall has said the death was an accident.
During the brief penalty phase of the trial Wednesday morning, Romines appealed to the jury's sense of compassion as he sought leniency for Steven Hall.
The jury heard testimony about the Halls' son, David, who is a resident at Spectrum Care Academy, a psychiatric center in London for teenage boys with behavioral problems.
Kasi Parsons, a therapist with Spectrum Care, said David has been there since April 22. His performance there has been "outstanding," Parsons said, and he is considered a role model for the other young men.
Parsons said David is set to graduate in four to six weeks, but he has nowhere to go after graduation.
In his argument to the jury, Romines said the doctor's children need him and asked for the lightest sentence. He argued that Steven Hall will not commit another offense, that "no one really believes" the doctor needs rehabilitation in prison and that retribution directed toward him "is not an appropriate exercise of the criminal justice system."
Bottoms did not seek the maximum sentence for Steven Hall, telling reporters later that it was up to the jury to decide how much a life is worth.
Meanwhile, Romines said he will appeal the conviction in part on the grounds that the trial should have been moved to another county.
In addition, Romines cited the judge's decision to exclude the testimony of a defense witness who would have questioned a detective's interrogation techniques.
Finally, Romines cited prosecution witnesses who testified that Steven Hall had become infatuated with a file clerk in his office. His overtures were not reciprocated, and there was no testimony of any sexual relationship, but jurors were left to decide whether the clerk might have been a motive for Hall to try to kill his wife.
Romines told the jury Tuesday, "If you're going to send people to the penitentiary who have a crush on somebody else, they better build some more jails."