A Phillips teen was sentenced in Rusk County Circuit Court, Thursday, to 20 years probation for his involvement in the double homicide of a Sheldon couple.
Tristan G. Shober, 17, was originally charged with two felony counts of first degree intentional homicide as a party to a crime, one felony count of operating without consent while possessing a weapon as a party to a crime, one felony count of armed burglary with a dangerous weapon as a party to a crime, theft of moveable property >$5,000 - $10,000 as a party to a crime, one count of theft of moveable property – special facts as a party to a crime, and one felony count of criminal damage to property (over $2,500) as a party to a crime.
Shober entered into a plea agreement with the two felony counts of first degree intentional homicide being amended to two Class U felony counts of felony murder as a party to a crime. According to Rusk County Circuit Court Judge Steven Anderson, the two felony counts have armed car-jacking as the underlying crime and are related to Shober’s role in the deaths of Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski.
All other counts will be dismissed but were read in during sentencing. Shober appeared in Rusk County Circuit Court on May 27 to be sentenced.
According to the criminal complaint, a grandson to Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski found both of them dead in their home from gunshot wounds. Along with Shober, Adam R. Rosolowski, 22, and Joseph Falk are co-defendants in the murders for allegedly being the shooters of the couple. Adam Rosolowski is a grandson of the Rosolowskis.
During the sentencing hearing, the Rosolowski’s daughter-in-law, Bridgette Rosolowski, and granddaughter, Anna Whada, read victim impact statements to the court. Bridgette Rosolowski said, “I pray in time our wounds will heal, but our scars will never go away.”
Continuing, Bridgette Rosolowski spoke of forgiveness and told Shober “may the Lord touch your heart and have a great impact…don’t take this second chance on life for granted.”
Whada told Shober, “their lives ended gruesomely and no one’s lives should end like that.” She continued by adding, “you did absolutely nothing…too afraid to do something for fear of your own life.” Whada asked the court to consider sentencing Shober to 25 years extended supervision.
In her argument to the court, Rusk County District Attorney Annette Barna told the court that the deaths of Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski impacted the community, their families and others in a very significant way. She called their deaths heinous.
When considering Shober’s character, Barna noted that this is the first time Shober has been in trouble and the interviewers in the pre-sentence investigation all call Shober a follower with a strong desire to fit in and easily led.
Barna believes Shober has rehabilitative needs and questioned whether sending a young follower into the prison system would be more dangerous than rehabilitating him through community resources.
“If he goes to prison, he will be around inmates and who will influence him?” Barna said.
Much of the treatment in prison surrounds drug rehabilitation, which isn’t where Shober’s highest needs stem.
Barna believes if Shober is in the community, he stands a better chance to encounter positive influences and receive rehabilitative treatment and programming. She believes there is overwhelming evidence Shober needs structure and strict supervision to help guide him toward accountability and learn how to say no and not follow everyone.
At the time of the murders, Shober did not have a phone to call for help; he jumped out of a moving truck to separate himself from Rosolowski and Falk, argued Barna.
Defense Attorney Kerry Kelm argued Shober is not a murderer but for the rest of his life be considered a felony murderer. Based from her time with Shober and the interviews in the pre-sentence investigation, she described him as a “good kid” and having a “huge heart.”
Kelm also recognized Shober as a follower who was misled. She called Shober’s fright and flight behavior following the shooting to be human nature, especially as a 16-year old kid in the midst of danger.
Shober didn’t really believe Rosolowski and Falk were going to shoot the Rosolowski’s, according to Kelm. She argued that after the shooting, “he had a right to be afraid to be shot by Adam and Joe.”
“Tristan is guilty of trusting bad people,” said Kelm, who believes Shober is in need of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), restorative justice programming, support and guidance.
Shober was unable to speak to the court, but his attorney, Kelm, read a statement he had prepared. Shober apologized for not being able to stop what was happening. He hopes the Rosolowski family can one day forgive him.
Rusk County Circuit Judge Steven Anderson called these offenses the most significant offenses he has had to deal with as a judge.
While Shober did not pull the trigger, he was present and gave assistance and “in the end did not report it,” said Anderson.
Speaking to the horror of finding a loved one murdered, Anderson told Shober he had culpability in that he could have stopped that from happening in this case.
Anderson said Shober did show remorse for what he did, but only after learning about the role the Rosolowski’s played in their community. “Is your remorse situational?” Anderson said.
While minds under 25 are still developing, “at 16 you should make some decisions to mitigate involvement,” in situations, said Anderson. While it’s good Shober doesn’t have a criminal history, Anderson said, the court doesn’t expect a 16-year old to have a criminal history.
While Kelm had highlighted some of the challenges Shober faced growing up, Anderson said “everybody on probation suffers those kinds of things…very few people grow up privileged.”
“I know I will receive a great deal of criticism for placing you on probation for this kind of heinous act,” said Anderson as he began his sentencing order.
Shober was sentenced to an imposed and stayed sentence of seven years incarceration and six years extended supervision. He will placed on 20 years probation following a full 365 days in the Rusk County Jail. He has 354 days credit.
While on probation, Shober must maintain absolute sobriety, must not have contact with the Rosolowski family unless it is requested by them, and have no contact with Adam Rosolowski or Joseph Falk. Shober must participate in a Restorative Justice Program or any programming deemed appropriate or recommended by his probation agent.
Shober will be required to participate in CBT therapy, provide a DNA sample and pay the surcharge and pay restitution.