A mentally ill man who shot and killed a prominent defense attorney in Somerset was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.
Clinton D. Inabnit, 41, will have to serve at least 17 years before being eligible for parole, said Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery.
Inabnit pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the June 2014 slaying of Mark Stanziano.
Montgomery and Inabnit's attorney, Richard Leary, said in court that the case illustrated gross shortcomings in the state's system to deal with mentally ill people.
If there had been a better process to monitor Inabnit before the shooting and keep him on his medication, or to keep him in treatment longer, he would not have killed Stanziano, Leary said.
"This was a preventable crime," Leary said.
Inabnit lived in an apartment across the street from Stanziano's downtown law office. He ambushed Stanziano as he arrived at work, shooting him six times with a 9 mm pistol.
A sheriff's detective saw the shooting, which was less than a block from the county courthouse, and quickly handcuffed Inabnit.
Inabnit had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He told police he had received a message through the local newspaper the day of the murder telling him to shoot Stanziano. He also said he heard ringing in his ears, which unidentified people told him would stop if he shot the attorney, a detective testified.
Inabnit had been admitted to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington four times since 2010 for psychiatric treatment, according to lawsuits filed by Stanziano's widow, Bethany L. Stanziano. He was released each time within a few days while still suffering delusions, even though he had made homicidal threats, the lawsuits allege.
Bethany Stanziano said her lawsuits are not about winning money, but rather trying to force changes that could prevent another tragedy, including changes in gun laws.
Inabnit bought the murder weapon at a pawn shop after he'd been in and out of Eastern State.
He also pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment. Circuit Judge David Tapp sentenced him to three years on that charge.
However, he will not have to serve that time unless he commits a violation during three years of probation after the 20-year sentence.
Montgomery said the goal in that arrangement was to provide more time to closely monitor Inabnit after prison.
One of Stanziano's daughters, Alexandra, and his widow spoke in court Monday of the pain the murder had caused.
"He is a monster," Bethany Stanziano said of Inabnit.
Leary, however, said now that Inabnit is properly medicated, he feels great remorse.
"He didn't set out to do this," Leary said.