A Tennessee woman convicted of shooting a homeless man who asked her to move her Porsche in Nashville’s iconic Music Row got off without any prison time and was sentenced instead to less than a year of probation.
Katie Quackenbush, a 32-year-old mom-of-four, on Thursday was handed a sentence of 11 months and 29 days of probation on a reckless endangerment conviction stemming from the 2017 shooting of Gerald Melton, according to The Tennessean.
Quackenbush, who lived in Nashville at the time of the incident but has since relocated to Texas, will be allowed to serve her sentence at her new place of residence.
“This has been the worst experience of my life, but I’m grateful that I had it, because it has changed me so dramatically to the core,” Quackenbush said at her sentencing. “Sometimes hard lessons are the best lessons.”
On Aug.26, 2017, Melton, then age 54, was sleeping on a sidewalk in Music Row when he was awakened by loud music and exhaust fumes coming from Quackenbush’s Porsche SUV, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department.
Melton and Quackenbush got into a heated argument, during which the woman allegedly asked the man if he “wanted to die tonight.”
Melton testified in court that he was walking away when Quackenbush exited her car and fired two shots, striking him in the abdomen.
Quackenbush then got back in her Porsche and drove with a passenger to a Taco Bell before heading home. Neither she nor her companion initially reported the shooting to the police.
Melton survived the shooting but required three surgeries, prosecutors said.
Quackenbush was arrested and indicted on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
At her trial in April, a jury found Quackenbush guilty of the lesser charge of reckless endangerment — a misdemeanor — after she testified that she fired the gun in self-defense to scare Melton.
Quackenbush’s father, who is an attorney in Texas, previously claimed that Melton threatened to kill his daughter if she did not lower the volume on her radio.
“My daughter told him, ‘I have a gun. Get the (expletive) away from me,’” Jesse Quackenbush told the television station Fox 17. “She pulled off one round as a means of warning, not intending to hit him or kill him. She thought she pointed far enough away from him to just scare him away, and he kept coming and she shot another round.”
At the sentencing last Thursday, prosecutors questioned Quackenbush’s claim that she was afraid of Melton, saying that an eyewitness heard the woman say that she was not frightened of the man and did not take his words seriously.
Assistant District Attorney Amy Hunter also brought up Quackenbush’s disturbing history of making threats against others. In one instance, the woman admitted to threatening to hit a baby with a brick.
In another case, Quackenbush poured water on a woman in a restaurant.
When given a chance to speak during the hearing, Quackenbush apologized to Melton for her actions — but also sought to present herself as a victim, claiming that she’s been ridiculed, has received death threats and struggled to find work.
“Millions of people were making fun of me online,” she lamented. “I was convicted by the community before trial.”