The man found guilty of the murder of Kerry-man, Michael O'Sullivan, has been sentenced to 40-years-to-life in prison.
Kenneth (Ken) Zimmerman was sentenced last week at Amador Superior Court in Northern California to 15-years-to-life for second-degree murder and 25-years-to-life for using a gun in a violent act.
The jury found him not guilty of first-degree murder, not guilty of criminal threat and not guilty of false imprisonment.
Michael O'Sullivan, originally from Valentia Island in Co. Kerry had emigrated to the U.S. during the early eighties. First settling in New York, he later moved to California where he married Krista Clem-O'Sullivan in 2006. He was the father of two children 16-month-old Tessie and three-year-old Michael Seamus, as well as two-step children Lydia and Jacob.
After a heated confrontation in August of last year, O'Sullivan was found slumped over his tractor with gunshot wounds in his side and back at Zimmerman's property. The two men had been at loggerheads since 2005 over a cattle gate which was shared by both properties in the rural suburb of Fiddletown.
During the proceedings, the victim's wife read an lengthily victim impact statement, detailing how her husbands murder had affected her and her children, saying they would now struggle forever with the lingering emotional turmoil.
Referencing a statement from Zimmerman where he said that he wanted to "piss on O'Sullivan's grave," the widow told the judge: “Your honor, you were here for the whole trial ... I was horrified by the lack of humanity in Ken Zimmerman. He knew we had children and small babies ... and yet he said, given the opportunity even now, he would piss on my husband's grave ... I can't forgive him, especially in light of the fact he seems so happy with himself.”
The trial centered around the ballistics report which revealed that Zimmerman fired at O'Sullivan from a distance of five to seven feet. Detectives called by the prosecuetion claimed that evidence showed Zimmerman had followed O'Sullivan through his yard and fired his gun as the Irishman attempted to escape.
During the trial Zimmerman claimed self-defense and that he only fired his weapon after the father-of-four had assaulted him.
After sentencing Amador County Chief Public Defender, Richard Cotta, called for a re-trail, citing insufficient evidence that Zimmerman had committed a cold-blood act. He also requested that if a re-trial was not granted the judge should lower the conviction from second degrees murder to voluntary manslaughter. Judge Cadle denied both motions.
Zimmerman has 60 days to launch an appeal.