Texas man faces up to 20 years in prison for killing co-worker

November 28, 2012
Danny Kirtley is escorted to his homicide trial Sept. 12 at Washington County Courthouse. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A Texas man was sentenced to 7 to 20 years in prison for shooting and killing a co-worker at a North Strabane Township welding shop in 2011.

Danny K. Kirtley, 49, was convicted by a jury Sept. 18 of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault following trial before Washington County Judge Janet Moschetta Bell.

The jury, however, found Kirtley not guilty of murder in the death of 34-year-old Trevor C. Compton, also of Texas, during a fight Feb. 10, 2011, at Rosenboom Welding & Fabrication on Wilson Road. Both men had moved to the area from Texas to work as welders in the oil and gas industry.

Since his arrest, Kirtley, who suffered injuries during the fight, claimed he shot Compton in self-defense. He has reiterated his claims since his conviction, saying he was sorry for what happened but justified in his actions.

“I regret this happened. I am remorseful for what happened,” Kirtley told the judge prior to sentencing. “I’m willing to accept my sentence so I can go home to my wife and family.”

Moschetta Bell sentenced Kirtley in the aggravated range for his refusal to show remorse or responsibility for Compton’s death. She also said Kirtley continues to blame others for what occurred instead of taking sole responsibility.

The judge’s decision followed a request by North Strabane Township police that Kirtley receive the maximum sentence so as to set an example to other workers who come to Washington County to work for oil and gas drilling companies.

“We have an obligation to the people who live here, “ said Detective John Wybranowski. “We want them (the workers) to know they will be held to our community’s standards.”

He added, “Our goal is avoid such situations.”

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Lucas also asked for the maximum sentence, saying Kirtley’s statements were disingenuous and “indicative of a person who regrets the position he is in.”

Kirtley’s attorney, Dave Shrager, argued his client is a man who in the latter stage of his life who has no significant criminal history and who has a wife and family he loves.

Shrager said he will likely appeal the sentence directly to state Superior Court following consultation with Kirtley.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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