- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2020

LEESBURG, Va. (AP) - A Virginia judge will decide this week whether to impose a 74-year prison sentence that a jury set for a retired Army major who shot and wounded two sheriff’s deputies.

Several jurors who convicted Douglas Vernon Johnson Jr., 54, told the Washington Post that they either believed they were giving him a lower sentence or wish they had the power to do so.

The Loudoun County Circuit Court judge who is scheduled to formally sentence Johnson on Wednesday can reduce the jury’s punishment. Defense attorney Edward Ungvarsky is asking the judge to sentence Johnson to a 20-year prison term.

Five jurors signed affidavits for the defense saying they thought Johnson deserved a chance to be released earlier.

“I was surprised that there wasn’t more leeway in the sentencing and we were not really allowed to ask any questions,” said Regina Hart, one of those jurors.

Virginia is one of only a handful of states where juries decide sentences. Kentucky is the only other state where juries are required to do so.

Johnson was drunk on Christmas Eve in 2017 when he shot and wounded two Loudoun County sheriff’s deputies who were trying to arrest him after a domestic dispute. Johnson fired three times, shooting one deputy in the leg and another in the leg and the arm, leaving both with permanent injuries and scars.

The jury convicted Johnson of attempted capital murder, malicious wounding, discharging a firearm within an occupied building and two other firearm-related charges.

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