Monifa Thomas, The Chicago Sun-Times
Copyright 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
A former tax consultant was sentenced Thursday to life in prison -- plus an additional 132 years -- for shooting a Chicago Police detective in the head and then holding the wounded officer hostage for hours.
Daniel E. Salley was convicted last October of shooting Detective Joseph Airhart in a South Side apartment in August 2001. Airhart, who was then 45 years old, was a member of an FBI task force trying to arrest Salley in a series of bank robberies.
Salley refused to allow medical treatment for Airhart, keeping federal and local police at bay for more than two hours before he was taken into custody.
The shooting left Airhart with severe brain injuries, and he is unable to walk, feed himself or breathe without the assistance of a ventilator, his sister testified before U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen on Thursday.
The courtroom was packed with relatives, members of the Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agents. They watched as Airhart's younger sister, Denise Airhart, narrated a video taken of the detective last month. It showed Airhart lying on a specially made air mattress, barely moving.
"My family was destroyed, Salley, by the blatant attempt you made to murder my brother," Denise Airhart said, stopping at times to cry while Salley calmly scribbled notes on a pad.
"In an instant, Salley, you took away a promising and productive future."
CLAIMED FBI AGENT FIRED SHOT
She asked that Salley "never see the light of day nor set foot outside again."
Airhart's two other siblings and his former partner on the police force also spoke to the court, describing the 19-year officer as an adventurous, dependable family man who was robbed of his life.
Salley, who represented himself during trial, maintained his innocence, saying an FBI agent was the one who shot Airhart.
He told the Airharts he understood their grief, but also said, "God knows what happened in that room. I believe that the truth is going to come out."
Salley showed little emotion as Andersen sentenced him to life in prison on the hostage charge plus an additional 132 years on six weapons charges, five of which carry mandatory sentences of 25 years.
The sentences for eight other felony counts Salley was convicted of, including attempted murder and bank robbery, are to be served concurrently with the life sentence, Andersen ruled.
Salley admitted during his trial to twice robbing the same bank and being armed with an arsenal of weapons when Airhart and others came to arrest him.
He told jurors the government had been spying on him.
Airhart's family declined to speak to reporters. After the hearing, relatives stood in a circle and prayed.
Ill. robber gets life plus 132 years for shooting, disabling officer