Grainger County resident Mark Sennett, who was indicted for being a convicted felony in possession of a firearm, on Friday was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison in what appears to be a compromise solution to a prosecution involving extenuating circumstances, according to court documents.
Nothing in the 2018 indictment suggests the handgun that Sennett possessed – and discharged four times inside his younger brother’s home in Rutledge – was stolen, but that’s the crime to which he was allowed to plead “by information” in an agreement reached in 2019.
The factual basis in the felon-firearm case and the stolen firearm cases are identical.
Based on the seriousness of the offense and Sennett’s criminal history, the bottom-of-the-range sentence should have been 57 months, but Sennett received an 11-month break below that, court documents indicate.
Sennett, 64, had already been in federal custody for 16 months, so he’ll be eligible for restricted release after serving a little more than two years.
The events that led to Sennett’s federal prison term occurred on June 12, 2018.
Sennett was house-sitting the home of his brother, Bill Sennett, while his brother was in Nashville with his wife, who had been diagnosed with cancer, according to Jonathan Moffatt, Sennett’s defense attorney.
It was important for Sennett to be there because his brother’s stepson, a convicted felon, was addicted to methamphetamine and both feared the stepson would use his stepfather’s two-month absence to steal valuable to fund his drug habit, according to Moffatt, who represented his client had a heart attack and suffers from high cholesterol.
On the date of the offense around 11 p.m., Sennett was awakened by the sound of dogs barking.
He later heard four people talking at different locations around his brother’s house, which is several hundred yards from the nearest home, according to his attorney.
“Believing that he needed to defend himself and his brother’s possessions, he reached for a pistol that was next to the bed, without permission to take possession of that firearm, and fired several shots around the room,” Moffatt’s motion for downward departure states.
Sennett then called 911 and reported he had fired shots because he believed someone was trying to burglarize the home, according to the motion.