Riverside man sentenced to 50 years
RIVERSIDE – A Riverside man who was convicted of shooting and killing his live-in girlfriend will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced to 50 years for second-degree murder Friday.
Thomas Lee Hansen, 72, will be 107 years old before he is eligible for parole in the May 1, 2011, shooting death of Sharon Kay Gerot, 54.
Washington County Attorney Larry Brock said that because the charge is a forcible felony, he is required to serve at least 70 percent of it before he is eligible for parole. Brock said that Hansen has already filed an appeal of the verdict.
“He has nothing else to do for the next 35 years but to appeal and continue to appeal and exhaust the state’s resources,” Brock said.
Hansen was found guilty Nov. 30, 2012, of second-degree murder after a trial. Brock said that second-degree murder was offered as a plea bargain, but Hansen had declined. Brock said that Hansen had offered to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
During the trial, the defense argued that Hansen did not purposely shoot Gerot, but rather was merely trying to scare her when he fired a gun in her direction.
Brock also said Hansen was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to Gerot’s estate and $9,000 to the crime victims assistance division. Hansen is now at the Iowa Medical Classification Center in Oakdale. Brock said that new inmates are evaluated for medical needs before being sent to the correctional facility that will best suit the person.
According to police reports, Gerot was found dead outside the couple’s home at 1355 Deer Run Drive, south of Riverside. Gerot and Hansen were living together at the time of the incident and the couple had applied for a marriage license two days before Gerot’s death. According to statements that Hansen made to law enforcement, Hansen admitted to shooting Gerot. He said the two had been arguing “on and off” all day.
According to testimony during the trial, Gerot was operating a riding mower in an open field behind the residence. Testimony also showed that Hansen had gone into his garage, retrieved his .40-caliber pistol, loaded it, walked back through the house and fired a shot from his deck in Gerot’s direction. An autopsy confirmed that the bullet had struck her in the head and caused her death.
During the trial, witness Todd Hahn testified that as he was driving his vehicle past the residence, he saw Gerot on the riding mower. He said that he saw her head snap back and her arms fly into the air. He pulled over and went to see if she was all right, thinking she had driven into a wire. Hahn said Hansen, whom he had known as a neighbor for many years, walked up and said that he had shot her. Hahn called law enforcement.
Brock said that he believes justice was served with the sentence. He said that he still believes Hansen is guilty of first-degree murder, but that he is satisfied with the verdict.