Minutes after being sentenced to life in prison, Maximilian Jaroslav Dohnal stood in the courtroom Friday and gazed silently and intently at his 70-year-old mother.
Italian-born Raquel Murillo, standing about 8 feet away, returned her son’s gaze. Several seconds later, Dohnal, who’d been convicted Thursday of shooting a man, spoke a few words to her. Murillo — who earlier had testified she’d talked to her son “a million times” about his life of crime — offered an equally short response.
A 35th District Court jury convicted Dohnal, 37, of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting Michael Stump on Nov. 16, 2005. Stump, 36, who was shot twice in the face, survived.
Jurors heard testimony Friday about numerous other crimes involving Dohnal and deliberated for about 10 minutes before deciding on the life sentence. He faced a sentencing range of 25 to 99 years or life in prison and must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole, District Attorney Micheal Murray said.
Dohnal was running a drug ring and Stump was working for him, but the two had a falling out over the drug business, according to testimony. That led to the shooting at 2 a.m. outside the Skinny’s convenience store — now 7-Eleven — 15 1501 Coggin. District Attorney Micheal Murray told jurors the shooting was an “attempted execution.”
Dohnal fled after the shooting, and he and Stump reconciled, testimony showed. Dohnal picked up Stump at Brownwood Regional Medical Center after Stump was released.
Dohnal was arrested in December in Arlington and returned later to Brown County. He was in and out of jail several times before his shooting trial.
Jurors heard testimony Friday in the punishment phase that Dohnal once ran an auto “chop shop” in Chicago. He also faces charges in Dallas in connection with running an identity theft ring and committing burglaries, according to testimony.
Two men who worked for him in Dallas, who are now serving prison terms, told jurors about illegal activities they knew Dohnal was involved in. One of the men said Dohnal would sink anyone he needed to in order to ensure his own survival.
Stump, 36, is serving a 15-year prison term after pleading guilty to several offenses after he was shot. Stump testified for both the state and the defense during Dohnal’s trial.
“I know Max has got a drug problem, just like I had a drug problem,” Stump testified. “Yeah, he did what he did, but he wasn’t in his right mind …”
Defense attorney Nathan Butler asked Stump if he has forgiven Dohnal for shooting him. “That’s hard to answer,” Stump replied. “I don’t think he should get the max.”
Butler said said in his closing argument that there were mitigating circumstances in the shooting. He referred to testimony from Dohnal’s mother that Dohnal was deeply affected by his parents’ divorce when Dohnal was a boy.
Butler asked jurors to assess a 25-year sentence. Dohnal would be required to serve half of that sentence before being eligible for parole, Butler said. He told jurors Dohnal could get his problems addressed through counseling and rehabilitation during that length of time in prison. Dohnal could be paroled as “an older gentleman” who would step into the life of his daughter, who is now a few months old, Butler told jurors.
Murray, noting Dohnal’s other crimes and an earlier prison sentence he served in Illinois, described Dohnal in his closing argument as as “lazy, con guy, liar, manipulator.”
“How many chances does a person get?” Murray asked jurors. “… All he’s done is take-take-take … How many offenses are you aware of? Who can count?”
Murray told jurors that Brownwood is “small-town USA, where people come to raise their families,” and it’s not acceptable for drug dealers to shoot each other.