Snorkeler's killer gets more than 2 years of imprisonment

A man who shot a snorkeler in the head after mistaking him for a rodent has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

William Roderick, 60, pleaded guilty to assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine, prosecutor Jeffrey Sweet said.

John W. Cheesman, 44, survived the Feb. 6 shooting. The bullet from the .22-caliber rifle struck him in front of his right ear, but did not penetrate his skull.

Roderick was taking care of a friend's house along the Smith River when he thought he saw a nutria, a cross between a beaver and a muskrat, in the water.

"He aimed, but he did not look," Sweet said. "It was extremely reckless."

Roderick, who immediately went to Cheesman's aid, admitted smoking marijuana about five hours before the incident, Sweet said.

Because of a previous felony drug conviction, it was illegal for Roderick, who was sentenced Monday, to own or handle firearms.