Earlier today, Lane County Circuit Court Judge Debra Vogt handed down a sentence in conjunction with the guilty plea of 74-year-old Carolyn Sue Stickley, who admitted to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 93-year-old Erwin Emerson Drake of Florence.
Stickley, who shot Drake in the back of the head last Feb. 12 as he sat on a couch in his Wild Winds Street home, said “I just snapped” when she pulled the trigger and fatally shot her ex-husband.
Initially, Stickley had claimed self-defense, telling authorities that she had shot Drake during a struggle that ensued after he pulled a handgun and threatened to shoot her. In her 911 call immediately after the shooting, Stickley described Drake as having dementia.
The two had divorced in 2010 after 24 years of marriage, following accusations by Stickley in 2009 that Drake was abusive. She sought a restraining order and Drake denied Stickley’s allegations.
The two divorced shortly after.
She then moved to Green Valley, Ariz., but said she continued to visit her ex-husband once a year to check on his well-being and help handle his finances.
Scott Howell, Stickley's attorney, told the court that his client had no previous arrests or had been charged with any crimes prior to last February's murder.
Lane County Prosecutor Bob Lane agreed to reduce the charge to manslaughter in exchange for Stickley's guilty plea, allowing her to claim “extreme emotional disturbance” as part of her defense.
Stickley will receive credit for the 11 months she has already served in the Lane County Jail. She must also forfeit her interest in Drake's personal estate.
If the 74-year-old completes the next nine years of her sentence, she will be 83 when she is released.
Had Stickley pleaded not guilty, the case would have gone to trial, where she would have faced first-degree murder charges and a mandatory life sentence in the event of a conviction.