Family of local soldier speaks to Duluth man sentenced for his deathThe mother and a sister of murdered Iraq war soldier Adam Sheda challenged Luis Mark Hogan on Monday to honor the man he killed by doing something positive with his life after he is released from prison. Hogan, 26, received a 12 1/2-year sentence Monday after pleading guilty in March to second-degree murder while committing a felony for fatally shooting Sheda, 26, of Cloquet on June 30 of last year.
By Mark Stodghill
Duluth News Tribune
The mother and a sister of murdered Iraq war soldier Adam Sheda challenged Luis Mark Hogan on Monday to honor the man he killed by doing something positive with his life after he is released from prison.
Hogan, 26, received a 12 1/2-year sentence Monday after pleading guilty in March to second-degree murder while committing a felony for fatally shooting Sheda, 26, of Cloquet on June 30 of last year.
Staff Sgt. Sheda had returned about a week earlier from a tour of duty with the Army National Guard in Iraq.
Hogan said Sheda showed up uninvited in his backyard at 927 E. Fifth St. Police were called to a report of shots fired at 3:39 a.m. According to the criminal complaint, Sheda jumped the fence of the East Hillside home, sought entry to a party with a $100 bill and later pulled a pistol that was turned against him.
Police said they believe the actions of both men were fueled by alcohol. Hogan admitted that he was legally drunk and that he was in control of the fight when he shot the victim.
Suzy Berger, the victim’s sister, told the court Sheda had asked in his will that proceeds from a $400,000 life insurance policy be used for World Vision — a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to helping children reach their potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Berger said part of the money would be used for a girl in Russia and a boy in Kenya who her brother was personally sponsoring.
“What could he have done if he had lived another 60 years?” Berger rhetorically asked.
She said there might come a day when she can forgive Hogan if he does something positive with his life. “Always remember that every day you live is a day Adam won’t,” Berger said. “Don’t let Adam die for nothing. Honor Adam’s life by doing good.”
Sheda was a 1999 graduate of Wrenshall High School, where he played basketball and football. After high school, he served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, for three years. He returned home and attended Lake Superior College and joined the Army National Guard in 2004, serving in Iraq with Charlie Company 136th Infantry. He was deployed for 22 months.
Rachel Swanson, another of the victim’s sisters, told Hogan that he served as her brother’s “judge, jury and executioner.” She said that her family didn’t want him to go to trial because it would be too emotional to hear the details of the murder over and over. “Enough pain has been brought to both of our families,” she said.
The court file contained many letters of support for Hogan, saying that his actions that night were out of character for him. Most said he was a good man who made a terrible mistake.
Hogan apologized to the Sheda family before being sentenced by 6th Judicial District Judge Mark Munger. “There were a lot of things I could have done different that night; I wish I did,” Hogan added. “I have nothing but Christian love for the Sheda family.”
Tears rolled down St. Louis County prosecutor Gary Bjorklund’s cheeks and those of others as Paulette Sheda, the victim’s mother, addressed the court. She said she put her son in God’s hands when he went to Iraq. She prayed for him. She said she was carrying the battle cross that her son wore with his dog tags.
“I’m holding that cross now because I can’t hold Adam,” she said. Her son was growing in his knowledge, love and service to God and now the man who killed him has the opportunity to do the same, she said.
“Luis, you have that chance,” she said. “You are in that prayer. Please stay close to God.”
Tony Sheda, the victim’s father, said he and his wife have had to seek grief counseling. He expressed anger and frustration at his son’s death. He said the media misrepresented who the real victim was. He said his son didn’t get a chance to tell his side of the story of what happened that night. At one point, he had to be admonished by the court to limit his comments to the impact of the loss of his son and not to argue the facts of the case.
Munger asked defense attorney Steven Coz, who along with Laura Zimm represented Hogan, if he had any response.
“This [shooting death] was a very close thing and it just as easily could have gone the other way,” Coz said. The defense attorney credited Sheda for the service he gave his country.
If Hogan follows prison rules he will receive supervised release from prison after serving a total of eight years, four months behind bars with credit for the 323 days he has already spent in custody. He was ordered to pay $1,084.95 restitution.
Tony Sheda told the court that his family has not deactivated his son’s telephone because his greeting is on it.
“We call it every day,” he said.
Mark Stodghill covers public safety and courts. He can be reached weekdays at 218-723-5333 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.