The Alaska Court of Appeals is upholding the 20-year sentence of a man who pleaded guilty to shooting his pregnant partner in the neck in 2014, leaving her paralyzed. The summary deposition was filed in court Wednesday.

In June 2014, James Vue and Michelle Moua were arguing about money when he shot at her twice. The first shot missed, but the second hit Moua in the spine.

In exchange for the state dropping a charge of first-degree attempted murder, Vue pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with a stipulation that his actions were among the “most serious conduct.” At sentencing, the court also found Vue to be a “worst offender” based on his actions pertaining to the case and his ongoing history of family violence, the court documents state. Twenty years was the maximum sentence he could have received.

Vue appealed his sentence, claiming it was excessive and his actions didn’t rise to the level of a worst offender.

The court disagreed. It ruled that the sentence was not excessive because, although Vue pleaded guilty to assault, his conduct amounted to attempted murder. As proof, the documents point to Moua’s testimony at Vue’s sentencing.

“She explained that Vue fired two shots at her. After the first one missed, Vue drew the slide back, loaded another round into the gun, told his [partner] that he was going to kill her, and shot her through the neck, severing her spine,” the documents state.

Moua also described Vue as being violent to their family. She said there wasn’t a single day in her life with Vue that she didn’t have some kind of mark on her body that he’d caused.

“Now I'm paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of my life,” Moua’s attorney read on her behalf at Vue’s sentencing. “I am no longer able to provide for my kids like before. I am living with severe nerve pain if I'm not on medication. When I had our last baby after the shooting, I was unable to cuddle, hold or feed him. James took my motherhood rights away from me and also shortened my life span with my kids too.”

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