A 31-year-old mother of three - despite her own emotional pleas
and the passionate pleas for mercy from her attorney, pastor and friends - was sentenced in King County Superior Court to 39 1/2 years in prison for shooting her former boyfriend last summer.
Andrea Altheimer was convicted in December of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, all in connection with the June 15 shooting. She will be eligible for parole after serving about 27 years.
The standard sentencing range for the crimes she committed is from 39 years and five months to 48 years and three months.
Altheimer had been offered a plea agreement of 15 years. But she opted to go to trial instead.
"I still do not have the answers" to why the incident happened, Altheimer told the judge yesterday as she sobbed inside the courtroom. But "at no time did I intend for David (Lamothe) to end up scarred, mentally and physically."
Throughout the trial, Altheimer's attorney, Lori Gustavson, maintained that the shooting was an accident. Yesterday, she pleaded to King County Superior Court Judge Harriett Cody to sentence her client to 10 years in prison - not almost 40.
"I expect judges to have a sense of what is appropriate and what is not," Gustavson said. "I know, your honor, that in your heart you cannot believe a 40-year-sentence is appropriate.
"It's in the law that you can be a wise judge, and you can be a fair judge. Your discretion and wisdom would not be overturned. Forty years is just too much. And it is incomprehensible. Wisdom would not throw her (Altheimer) away."
But Cody, who listened attentively to Gustavson and others as they pleaded for leniency and a much lower sentence, said she was limited by the law.
"Judges do not write the law," Cody said. "It is our job to enforce it. My personal decisions about what is fair is not a controlling issue."
Altheimer, of Tukwila, was convicted for shooting Lamothe moments after discovering he was having an affair with her best friend, Antoinette Eaton.
The shooting left Lamothe, 33, with significant hearing loss and a 5-inch scar on his neck.
Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that after Altheimer shot Lamothe - who managed to escape in his car - the defendant chased down Eaton and threatened to kill her. After Eaton begged for her life, Altheimer forced her into a car and drove off with her.
Eaton, 35, was not hurt, but she testified during the trial that she'd been emotionally damaged and her life irreparably altered as a result of the incident.
"I'm just glad that justice was done," Eaton said yesterday.
King County Deputy Prosecutors Cindi Port and Shannon Anderson told jurors during the trial that Altheimer shot Lamothe in a fit of jealous rage in the parking lot of his workplace. Lamothe was sitting in the passenger seat of a car next to Eaton.
Port conceded that "it is a high and harsh sentencing range that the law imposes on Miss Altheimer."
But she added that the punishment was necessary considering the effect Altheimer's actions had on the victims.