Man sentenced for shooting teenage girl in heart with air rifle

Girl survived, but will be heart patient for rest of her life

Jim Melwert
July 12, 2018 - 3:54 pm

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BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A 28-year-old man received a lengthy prison sentence for shooting his sister’s friend with a pellet gun, and then convincing family members to go along with his lie to try to cover it up. 

James Stanley was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison for shooting a 16-year-old girl in the chest with an air rifle.

Stanley initially told police he was shooting at a target and the pellet ricocheted, hitting his sister’s friend in the chest. 

But the victim said she was sitting on the couch in his Bristol Borough living room when she saw him pointing the gun at her. 

"The pellet penetrated not only her shirt, but a sweatshirt above it, and actually entered the pericardium, the lining of her heart," said Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Tom Gannon. "When someone hears 'air rifle,' they think of something that just pings off of cans, but this is actually a high-powered air rifle that penetrated into her heart."

The pellet remains lodged in her chest, and Gannon said the girl will be a heart patient for the rest of her life. A letter to the court explained she will never be able to take part in any activity that could cause it to move into her heart.

"Every cold, every feeling when she has any kind of pain or motion around her chest affects her because she never knows what’s going to happen," he said.

The teenage girl said Stanley laughed at her after he shot her as she struggled to breathe. 

"She spent over a week in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, at times in the intensive care unit," Gannon added.

Judge Diane Gibbons told Stanley she was prepared to follow recommendations to sentence him to county prison, but she explained since Stanley never showed remorse, she decided to send him to state prison.