SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Clairemont woman who fired a shot through the front door of her next-door neighbors' apartment after they complained about loud noises and yelling coming from her unit was sentenced today to 16 years in state prison.
Brittany Lefler, 37, was convicted in May of four counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and one count each of making a criminal threat, shooting at an inhabited dwelling and child endangerment.
Superior Court Judge Joan Weber said the defendant's addiction to alcohol led to the terrifying events of Dec. 29, 2016.
"This is a woman who really tried to kill people,'' the judge said. ``Alcohol led her to that.''
Deputy Alternate Public Defender Gilson Gray unsuccessfully argued for a lesser sentence, calling Lefler's actions "significant recklessness'' while stressing that one shot was fired.
But Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly said Lefler pointed a gun in the face of one of her neighbors when he opened the door, saying, "I've got my finger on the trigger.''
Reilly said one of the victims grabbed her 11-year-old daughter from behind the door just before Lefler fired the shot.
Had Lefler fired a few seconds earlier, she might have been looking at first-degree murder, the judge told the defendant.
"You gave control of your life to alcohol,'' Weber told Lefler. ``Can you believe you're capable of trying to kill people?''
A tearful Lefler apologized to the four victims, who were not in court for the sentencing hearing.
"I'm truly sorry for putting your whole family in danger,'' she said.
Lefler vowed to get help for her alcoholism "so something like this doesn't happen again.''
During the trial, Reilly said Lefler had been drinking and was "out of control'' and "verbally abusive'' after Erick Morales called police about 1 a.m.
Morales and her roommates told police that Lefler kept banging on the wall and screaming in her apartment on Beadnell Way.
When officers responded, Lefler wanted to know who called the police on her, according to body-worn camera evidence.
Morales' 19-year-old son said at one point he went outside and asked Lefler to "keep it down,'' but she reached into her boot and pulled out what looked like a gun and he ran back inside.
"She (Lefler) said, 'C'mon outside, I'll bust a cap in you,''' Henry Molina testified.
The witness said he had overheard Lefler telling police that she kept a gun for "things like this.''
After he shut the door around 5 a.m., Molina testified that he heard another bang and his mother said, "She's shooting! She's shooting!,'' referring to Lefler.
Reilly told the jury that Lefler pointed her gun at everyone in Morales' apartment -- including her boyfriend, 11-year-old daughter and son -- before pulling the trigger.
"She (Lefler) did it on purpose,'' the prosecutor said. "In a moment of anger and fury, she shot through that front door. Ms. Lefler sent a message with a bullet through that front door. She can't do that!''
Gray told the jury that Lefler called 911 multiple times that night, but police did not help her.
Lefler was home alone, scared and outnumbered by her complaining neighbors, Gray said. He told the jury that Lefler was ``practicing'' pole dancing inside her residence.
Both sides were yelling at each other and Lefler fired the shot accidentally when a door suddenly slammed, according to Gray.