Michigan Road-rage Shooter Sentenced to 27 to 50 Years in Prison

Martin Zale showed few signs of emotion during sentencing Friday in Howell.
Martin Zale showed few signs of emotion during sentencing Friday in Howell. (PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Ward, (Livingston County, Mich.) Daily Press & Argus)

A Michigan man was sentenced to 27 to 50 years in prison Friday as punishment for killing a father of two who approached his pickup truck in what prosecutors described as a road-rage incident.

Martin Edward Zale, 69, of Marion Township, Mich., was convicted May 15 of second-degree murder and related firearms charges in the Sept. 2 fatal shooting of Derek Flemming, 43, of Oceola Township, Mich.

“I’m a broken woman with broken children,” Amy Flemming said in court before Zale’s sentence was handed down.

During his trial, Zale had maintained that he shot Derek Flemming in self-defense as the man confronted him about his aggressive driving at an intersection in Genoa Township, Mich., about 50 miles northwest of Detroit. He said then that he had intended to kill his victim, who stood at his driver’s side window as the pickup was stopped at a red light, because Derek Flemming hit him in the face, threatened to harm him and reached into the truck’s cab as if to carry out the threat.

Derek Flemming and his wife had been on their way to pick up their two children when Zale’s speeding pickup nearly struck their Ford Escape, Amy Flemming said a few days after the incident. A GoFundMe account established a day after Derek Flemming died has raised about $23,000 in the past nine months.

Zale did not speak Friday on the advice of his lawyer, Marcus Wilcox.

Judge Miriam Cavanaugh of Livingston County Probate Court said she found no compelling reasons for leniency. State-recommended guidelines for the crime call for 15 to 25 years in prison.

“You were a shooting waiting to happen,” she said. “If it hadn’t been Mr. Flemming, it would have been someone else.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Daily Press & Argus, Lisa Roose-Church

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