A Flower Mound man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday for shooting a man in the chest last summer during an argument about where a car was parked at Grapevine Lake.
Thomas Craig Sell, 58, pleaded guilty in April to one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting Allen LaPrairie on July 7 at a trailer park where Sell lived and was the caretaker. Sentencing by state District Judge Wayne Salvant was delayed until a pre-sentencing investigation was complete.
Monday afternoon, prosecutors offered Sell a 10-year prison sentence, but he rejected it.
During the subsequent hearing before Salvant, Sell’s mother, sister and the property owner for whom he worked testified that Sell was not aggressive and had worked diligently to do his job and keep trespassers off the property.
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They asked Salvant to grant Sell probation or a minimum number of years in prison.
Bill Vassar, who prosecuted the case along with Julie Harbin, asked Salvant to sentence Sell to 15 to 20 years. Vassar said Sell showed no remorse during the pre-sentencing investigation.
“I have no remorse and no regrets. If I had the chance to do it again, I would do it again exactly the same way,” Vassar quoted Sell as telling a probation officer. “That fact that he shot Mr. LaPrairie over a parking space shows just how cold-blooded he is.”
The shooting occurred July 7, when a woman on an outing with friends and children parked her car at the trailer park. The group was headed to Rockledge Park at Lake Grapevine.
While they were gone, Sell blocked the car with his pickup. When they returned, he began yelling that the woman was trespassing.
LaPrairie, who was in the group, argued with Sell, who pulled out a handgun and shot LaPrairie in the chest. One woman told investigators that she tried to call 911, but Sell pointed the gun at her face and told her to hang up.
A woman drove LaPrairie to Great Wolf Lodge, where they met Flower Mound and Grapevine police, and an ambulance was summoned.
The bullet nicked LaPrairie’s diaphragm and portions of his large and small intestines. Vassar told the judge that LaPrairie has had multiple surgeries and will continue to have medical problems.
Salvant told Sell that he found the case “very troubling.”
“You actually shot a man over a parking space basically,” Salvant said. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”
“It never should have escalated to this point,” Salvant said. “It never should have happened. To say that you’re not remorseful, that bothers me a great deal because it could happen again.”
Sell insisted to Salvant that the issue wasn’t the parking space but criminal trespassing, and that he shot LaPrairie because he was afraid the man was going to beat him up. He said he is now remorseful after learning the extent of LaPrairie’s injury.
Sell will have to serve half his sentence before he is eligible for parole. He will get credit for almost a year he has spent in jail since his arrest.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655