CANTON Love is no reason to obstruct justice.
The message was at the heart of St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards sentencing of Stephen Trimm, the father of convicted killer Dustin J. Trimm, on Wednesday.
Mr. Trimm, 65, of Winthrop, pleaded guilty Feb. 11 of trying to bribe a witness in his sons murder trial. He was sentenced to 120 days of weekend jail time for the next four months. He also received five years probation.
Prior to his sentence, Judge Richards read through 21 letters written by family, friends and members of the community that spoke of Mr. Trimms character.
Defense attorney Emil M. Rossi said his client had admitted that he had overreached the boundaries of the law in March or April 2013, before his sons trial was to begin, when he paid $1,500 to Robert McConnell, owner of the Norfolk property where the body of Jason M. Wing, 21, was found by state police investigators Feb. 1, 2012, in an effort to prevent him from testifying against his son.
The younger Trimm shot Mr. Wing in the head and chest and buried his body in a wooded area off Grantville Road. He pleaded guilty in April 2013 to one count of first-degree manslaughter in the Aug. 31, 2010, death of Mr. Wing.
Mr. Trimm told Mr. McConnell that his sons defense didnt need to prove him innocent; it just had to create reasonable doubt in the prosecutions case.
Mr. Trimm also arranged a meeting between the witness and a private investigator.
It is a matter that affects the integrity of our system, Mr. Rossi said. The concern over this overwhelms him every day, and that is genuine. Nobody in the world is more vulnerable than a person who sees a child in harms way.
And that is what happened here, Mr. Rossi told the judge. Mr. Trimm saw his son in trouble and wanted to do everything he could to protect him.
He saw that and he just wasnt sure that everything that could be done was being done, and it got out of hand, Mr. Rossi said.
Standing before the two dozen family friends and colleagues sitting behind him, Mr. Trimm softly spoke a few words when given the chance to address the court, expressing his shame in both his words and tone.
I did wrong, Mr. Trimm said. I understand that and I have been beside myself.
Judge Richards agreed that Mr. Trimms actions were an attack on the integrity of the system that, while it isnt perfect, makes a great attempt at fairness.
However, his understanding of the situation was not limited by that of the law and rules of the court, and the judge said his personal role as a family man is one that allows him to understand how that can cloud judgment.
Love can get in the way of anything, and I understand that is what happened here, Judge Richards said. But that doesnt make it OK. Nothing can make it OK and incarceration is a necessary part due to your attack on the integrity of the system.
In addition to his jail and probation sentence, Mr. Trimm was ordered to pay $375 in court fines, fees and surcharges.