Judge stands by jury recommendation in I-71 road rage case

A judge handed down the sentence to Christopher McCullum this morning. In August, a jury convicted him of shooting and killing another driver on I-71.

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) –  The final chapter of a more than two-year-old road rage case is now closed. A judge handed down a 60-year sentence to Christopher McCullum Friday morning. In August, a jury convicted him of shooting and killing another driver, Mukhtar Ahmed, on I-71 in February 2015.

Both sides in this story agree nobody truly wins in this case. One life is lost and so many others have been changed forever. The defense said it's disappointed with the decision, but the prosecution believes it's fair and fitting for this crime.

"This was the worst day of his life. For Mr. Ahmed's family, it was the worst day of their life also,” defense attorney Josh Hartman said.

In August, the week-long trial ended with a jury recommendation of 60 years in prison. The judge honored that request in Friday's sentencing.

"Mr. McCullum, you've taken a life. You've taken a valuable life. You've taken a father away from his children. You've taken a husband away from his wife virtually at random. You were firing, based upon the testimony that the court heard, multiple times randomly while you were on the highway. You hit someone else's vehicle also. You endangered virtually everyone's life who was around you, including your own,” Judge Audra Eckerle said.
 
McCullum's defense team agreed he deserved to spend time in prison but called for a 20-year sentence instead- pointing to his lack of violent history and struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues.

“He's a man that needs treatment, not to take away from what happened. There was a life taken and a family destroyed. The court is correct there, but now we've got two lives who are essentially ending today,” Hartman said.

Pleased with the outcome, the prosecutor wanted to again thank all of the witnesses who came forward on that February day.

"We had folks who were just on their way to work that day. They saw something that didn't look right, and they took the time to contact the police that day. You had a man on his way to work at UofL. You had a man on his way to work at Humana. You had a woman on her way to a bible study. They all took the time to make a phone call and say this is what I saw, this is what I heard, and it made all of the difference in this case,” prosecutor Ryan Olberding said.

McCullum's attorney said he'll face a parole board in 20 years, but there's no guarantee he will be released early from his sentence.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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