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Man sentenced to probation for 2018 shooting

William Chrisman
William Chrisman

A McHenry man will not serve prison time for a 2018 shooting during which police said he fired a gun at his former wife and then turned the gun on himself.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt on Friday sentenced 38-year-old William Chrisman to two years of probation and 52 days in jail for what the judge called "a horrific and tragic act." Now suffering a brain injury as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chrisman has "punished himself" more than prison could, Wilbrandt said.

"[Chrisman] has condemned himself to a life of pain, frustration and near total disability," Wilbrandt said. Chrisman's brain injury also would have placed him at an increased risk of exploitation in prison, Wilbrandt said.

The shooting occurred in the early hours of Jan. 15, 2017, at Chrisman’s home in the 5200 block of Home Avenue, McHenry. A police investigation revealed that Chrisman fired a handgun, causing a minor injury to the woman, and then shot himself.

In a letter that McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs read aloud in court, the woman said Chrisman held her down and put a gun to her neck. She escaped with only a graze wound and a burn on her finger after she was able to push the gun away before Chrisman pulled the trigger, she wrote.

"I can see in my mind like a movie every detail of that night," the woman wrote.

Two children were home at the time and witnessed the shooting.

"My children were trying to stop the bleeding and help save their father," the woman wrote in her letter.

Chrisman had little to no memory of the shooting Friday. Chrisman was found fit to stand trial in 2018. A psychological evaluation revealed the he has difficulty weighing consequences, but understands basic legal terms and can communicate with his attorneys, psychologist Robert Meyer said at the time.

Rather than taking the case to trial, however, Chrisman entered a blind guilty plea in October to aggravated battery. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed additional charges, including attempted murder, domestic battery and child endangerment.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, Combs asked the judge to sentence Chrisman to prison for an unspecified amount of time.

Chrisman's juvenile son, however, asked Wilbrandt to allow his father to remain at home.

"I really think my dad should not go to jail because I don't know what I would do without him," the boy said. "He's literally the best dad ever."

Chrisman and his former wife have divorced since the shooting, and Chrisman now lives with his children at his parents' home.

As a condition of his sentence, Chrisman is required to wear a location monitoring device that will notify police if he travels further than a mile from his parents' home, Wilbrandt ordered.

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