A three-judge panel ruled Friday that a Virginia man who shot a gun at a gas station in Germantown during a 2011 fight must complete his sentence in prison.
Dmytro Solomatin of Reston had spent a year and a half in home confinement for the charge of first-degree assault, until his sentence — five years in prison — could be reviewed by a panel.
It was up to the three judge panel to hear Solomatin’s appeal of his sentence, a mandatory minimum five-year sentence for a felony handgun charge.
On Friday, that panel — composed of Montgomery County Circuit Court Judges John W. Debelius III, Sharon V. Burrell, and Michael Mason — ruled that the sentence was appropriate and that Solomatin report to custody immediately.
On Aug. 6, 2011, Solomatin and Michael Rickley of Germantown got into a fight over an open gas pump. After being punched in the nose, injuring his hand, and hitting his head on the pavement, Solomatin — who legally owned a gun in Virginia — got his handgun from his car and shot out the victim’s car tire, according to testimony at the trial.
Rickley’s then-fiancée was in his car during the incident.
Solomatin was convicted of first-degree assault, the use of a handgun in a felony crime of violence and illegal possession of a handgun after a three-day trial last year, but was acquitted of attempted second-degree murder.
About a dozen of Solomatin’s family members, including his wife and stepfather, attended Friday’s hearing. Solomatin told the three-judge panel, “I have done everything I can to show the court I can play by the rules.”
“I’m not a criminal,” he said.
Scott Rolle, Solomatin’s lawyer, called his client a “gentle soul,” who has never had a criminal record. In appealing for a reduced sentence, Rolle told the judges that Solomatin had done everything he could to show the judges he is not a danger to society, including taking responsibility for his actions, cooperating with police, seeking counseling, doing volunteer work and supporting his wife and infant daughter at his job.
“He is the last person you would expect to find here today,” Rolle told the three-judge panel, led by Judge John W. Debelius III. Making Solomatin go to prison for the remainder of the sentence would be “cruel, unusual, and frankly, at this point, vindictive,” Rolle said.
Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Nee told the panel that “the state feels [Solomatin] has not shown remorse” for his crime.
Montgomery County Police Officers still had not located the handgun he used in the altercation, Nee said.
Debelius called Solomatin’s use of a firearm “grossly innappropriate.”
Although Solomatin had attempted to redeem himself, Debelius said, the initial sentence of five years was appropriate, ordering him into custody immediately.
“As a victim of gun violence, I’m happy the three-judge panel upheld the sentence,” Rickley said, in an interview, adding, “I never pursued him. I was always on defense.”
“The ruling from the three-judge panel in the matter involving Mr. Solomatin was appropriate,” Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said. “Arguing over a gas pump and shooting at someone for it is not the way we resolve conflicts in a civil society. Making sure the defendant has time to think about the consequences of his actions will hopefully deter others from resorting to extreme measures to solve their perceived problems.”