Buck-Schrag expresses remorse in slaying; is sentenced to almost 49 years

Zachary Buck-Schrag and defense attorney Joseph Huerter listen to judge during Buck-Schrag ‘s sentencing Monday afternoon. (WIBW/Steve Fry)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Before he was sentenced Monday to nearly 49 years in prison on Monday, Zachary Buck-Schrag faced the family of slaying victim Travis L. Larsen in a courtroom and expressed remorse for causing his death.

"I feel horrible for all the pain I've caused everyone in this room," Buck-Schrag said. He said he prays that each member of Larsen's family receives comfort and peace.

Buck-Schrag likely will be in his 60s when he completes the sentence he faces in the shooting death of Larsen, a 37-year-old motorist.

Buck-Schrag is 22 and was sentenced to 586 months -- 48 years and 10 months -- after a jury convicted him of felony first-degree murder. Buck-Schrag isn't eligible to earn good time on the life term.

He also was sentenced to two years and eight months for criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle; 12 months for aggravated assault; and eight months for criminal possession of a firearm by a felon.

Those terms will be served concurrently with the felony murder sentence. Buck-Schrag's alternative conviction of the less serious second-degree murder was struck from the sentencing on Monday.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Mark Braun also revoked Buck-Schrag's probation on a 2017 conviction of attempting to elude a police road block and imposed a 12-month term, which will run consecutively to the felony murder sentence.

The bases for revoking Buck-Schrag's probation were failing to remain law abiding and possession of a firearm, the judge said.

After he is released from prison, he must register as a violent offender for 15 years, the judge said.

Earlier on Monday, the judge denied defense attorney Joseph Huerter's motion for a new trial or an acquittal.

Buck-Schrag had two prior person felony convictions, which greatly enhanced his murder sentence. If he had prior convictions of one person felony and one nonperson felony, his murder sentence would have been 23 years and nine months, according to the Kansas sentencing grid.

Buck-Schrag testified during his trial that he acted in self defense when he shot Larsen.

Jurors deliberated more than five hours on February 8 before they convicted Buck-Schrag of first-degree murder of Larsen, who he said was pursuing the vehicle Buck-Schrag was a passenger in.

Buck-Schrag told jurors he and a friend were being chased on icy roads, through several turns, when the SUV they were in slid and stopped in the ice and snow.

The pursuing Chevrolet Monte Carlo then slammed into the back of his car. Buck-Schrag said that’s when he opened fire with a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, killing Larsen and injuring Bruce Reynolds, who was also in the Monte Carlo.

Buck-Schrag told jurors he didn't intend to kill anyone when he fired shots at Larsen's car, "but to stop the attack, to stop the threat. I never would have fired the shots if (the Monte Carlo) hadn't rammed me," Buck-Schrag said.

He contended he was defending himself and Carissa Ann Dean Williams, a long-time friend, when he fired his pistol. If he didn't shoot, he and Williams would been "hurt badly or killed," he testified.

The Monte Carlo was struck by five bullets, including one that passed through the windshield, striking Larsen in the head killing him. The Monte Carlo also was struck with three bullets in the right front door and one in the door frame.