BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A man was sentenced Monday to 60 years in prison for the stabbing death of a Billings photographer and philanthropist who often gave money to people in need.
Zachariah James Wiseman, 24, was high on meth when he stabbed Michael Sample three times on June 19, 2014, prosecutors said. Wiseman had stalked Sample before the murder, plotting to rob him after he made his routine afternoon withdrawal of cash from a nearby bank.
Wiseman, who pleaded guilty in April to deliberate homicide, will be eligible for parole in 20 years.
Sample was vice president of the Sample Foundation, and his photographs appeared in numerous books and calendars.
His son, Ryan Sample, said in court Monday that his father was “living a life of genuine kindness.” He added that people called his father a fool for “too freely handing out $10 and $20 bills,” but those small gifts were only a percentage donations his father made.
Wiseman’s attorney, Kris Copenhaver, said her client was barely 2 years old when his infant sister was killed by his father, according to The Billings Gazette (https://goo.gl/q9Yrio ). From there, Wiseman was passed around in the foster care system, eventually being sent to live with family. At 12, he entered the juvenile justice system, where he spent most of the rest of his adolescence.
Wiseman spoke briefly at the hearing, saying he is no longer the man he was last year.
He said he had realized his mistake, accepted Jesus Christ into his life and wanted to reach out to younger versions of himself to try to help prevent them from making the mistake he did.
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