EUGENE — A former firefighter who authorities say shot nine 3-inch nails into the back of a woman's head in a botched suicide pact in Oregon has been sentenced to two years in state prison after accepting a plea deal.
Troy Vance Thompson pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted second-degree manslaughter after accepting a deal that allowed him to avoid a possible maximum sentence of more than seven years in custody, the Register Guard reported.
The 31-year-old woman from Eugene survived but suffered permanent brain damage from the nails.
"I'm very sorry about how it turned out," Thompson said in court. "I wish we could've done something a little bit different. We had no idea it was going to be a halfway thing, or we wouldn't have done it."
Thompson, 47, of Creswell told authorities he first met the woman the day before the incident when she stopped her car on Highway 99 in Eugene and approached him while he walked along the road, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in the case in June. She told Thompson she needed someone to kill her because she didn't want to be committed to a mental hospital.
The woman eventually said she would rent a gas-powered nail gun and meet Thompson in the woods to carry out a suicide pact.
Thompson told police he fired three nails from the gun into the back of the woman's head but then stopped. The woman "was still alive and told him to keep going (and) reminded Troy he had promised her he would help her," according to court papers filed earlier in the case.
He then shot six more nails into her skull and then put one in his own head before passing out, the documents state.
The woman's mother has told authorities that her daughter has bipolar disorder and had stopped taking her medication about three weeks before the incident, the newspaper reported. Thompson also told police that he had previous brain injuries, a history of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, according to court papers.
The victim's mother appeared at the court hearing but declined to comment.
Lane County Circuit Court Judge Mustafa Kasubhai said that although the incident itself was unfortunate, "the underlying tragedy beyond that is that in our community, people with mental health conditions find themselves so alone that (suicide) becomes the only viable alternative."
Thompson will serve three years of probation upon his release from prison.
If he violates probation, he will be sentenced to another three years and four months behind bars, according to the agreement.