LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- The man convicted of shooting and killing another driver on I-71, was recommended 60 years in prison by a jury. Christopher McCullum was convicted of the February 2015 murder of Mukhtar Ahmed on Tuesday and sentenced one day later.
It was an emotional morning in court with the suspect apologizing, claiming substance abuse played a role. The victim’s wife also took the stand for the second time during the trial- explaining how her and her children’s life has changed
In the end, McCullum was convicted with all three of the charges brought before him, including murder, wanton endangerment and tampering with physical evidence.
Taking the stand with tears in his eyes, McCullum looked at the wife of the man he killed and apologized.
"I'm sorry it happened. I was not in my right mind,” McCullum said.
McCullum told the jury he was struggling with substance abuse when the incident happened. His attorney described hallucinations that played a role in the incident and said that is not the person he is, but just one thing that he did.
The prosecutor argued that the act defined McCullum, and that is how he should be recognized. He also described the impact of McCullum’s action, including leaving a wife without a husband or father for their children.
"I'm grateful that my husband's death was a quick death. He was shot. But his car wasn't blown into pieces. that's what I tell my daughter when she is distraught and says this isn't fair”, Shamy Nabil, the victim's wife, said.
Police said the shooting stemmed from road rage.
Ahmed was on his way to work after dropping off his children. McCullum fire five shots at his vehicle- hitting and killing Ahmed.
“I try to look at the bright side. I try to look at the other side. I try to not to let anger take over," Nabil said.
McCullum maintains the act was not intentional and points the finger at his battle with substance abuse.
McCullum said, "I am not a violent person. I've never had any violent charges against me. I've never hurt anybody in my life."
The prosecutor argues he is a violent person, and his actions on the road two and a half years ago prove that.
But ultimately it was the jury that decided how long McCullum will spend behind bars. He was eligible for a minimum sentence of 20 years, or maximum life in prison.