Marine convicted of beating outside Jason Aldean concert gets year in jail
By JENNIFER HLAD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 18, 2014
CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A Camp Pendleton Marine convicted last month of a brutal beating at a country music concert was sentenced Friday to a year in county jail and three years of formal probation.
Sgt. Raymond Sharkey of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division was convicted of beating Zachary Zander outside a Jason Aldean concert in September 2012. Zander suffered a broken leg and facial injuries so extensive that he required hours of reconstructive surgery, the victim's father, Keith Zander, said.
During the trial, the younger Zander said the fight started when he heard Sharkey harassing several women in his group outside the concert. The confrontation quickly turned into a fight in which at least five other Marines joined Sharkey.
Sharkey identified the other Marines, but he was the only one charged. A Marine spokesman said the command investigated the incident but took no action against the others.
At the sentencing hearing Friday, Zander’s parents, Keith and Cheryl Zander, read lengthy statements urging Judge Stephanie Sontag to impose prison time on Sharkey.
Cheryl Zander clutched tissues in her trembling hands as she talked about the trauma her son suffered and spoke of nightmares of Marines stalking her house and trying to kill her family. She still is uneasy around young military men, particularly Marines, she said.
“Zach stood up that night for what was right, and he paid a dear price for it,” she said. “I pray that Mr. Sharkey will also pay a very dear price for his actions.”
Sharkey's lawyer, Jason Conge, said Sharkey is not a danger to society and that if he could change what happened, he would.
The case was complicated because nearly everyone involved was extremely intoxicated, Sontag said, and the witness statements were inconsistent.
“The default is that you go to prison for this,” she told Sharkey.
She told Sharkey she was disturbed that he did not seem candid at his trial and did not appear to show remorse.
But, since he had no criminal record and was a successful Marine with “reams of letters” of support — including at least two from Marine Corps officers — and had not asked others to join the fight, Sontag decided to send Sharkey to jail, not prison.
Sharkey will not be allowed to drink alcohol during his three-year probation, and the court will determine in September how much he must pay Zander in restitution.
After the sentence was read, Cheryl Zander said she was pleased with the outcome.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.
But Keith Zander called it “pathetic.”
“He was a leader, trained to lead and motivate people,” he said.
Conge told the judge that Sharkey is being separated from the Marines. Division spokesman Capt. Hudson Reynolds said only that Sharkey’s command “is fully cooperating with civilian authorities as he is going through the trial process.”