Shannon Spory

Shannon Spory booking mugshot. May 14, 2019. Submitted Photo/The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

SOMERSET – A machete-wielding attacker who crept into a Friedens man’s bedroom early one morning in April and struck him in the head will serve time in state prison.

Somerset County President Judge D. Gregory Geary sentenced Shannon Nicholas Spory, 21, to serve 70 to 180 months for burglary and aggravated assault with a weapon. The victim, William Stoppe, told the court that he will never be the same after April 13 attack.

“This man broke into my house and tried to brutally murder me,” Stoppe said. “Everyone’s worst nightmare is being attacked in their sleep.”

Stoppe was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, in Johnstown, where he was treated for multiple lacerations to his hands, arms, chest and head. He had multiple staples in his head and multiple stitches to his face, investigators said in a criminal complaint.

Spory told troopers that he entered his co-worker’s home through an unlocked door around 5 a.m. and stood next to the sleeping man’s bed, holding the machete above his head ready to strike. Spory told investigators after about two minutes of contemplation, he decided to kill Stoppe, and struck him on the head.

The man woke up and fought back. Spory told investigators that he dropped the weapon because he was growing tired. 

Spory also told them that he was jealous because he believed his ex-girlfriend has a relationship with the victim.

Spory fought back tears as he apologized to Stoppe.

“I’m sorry and I say this from the depths of my heart,” Spory said. 

“I’m ready to accept just punishment for my actions.”

Friends and family spoke on Spory’s behalf saying the act was uncharacteristic of him and asked the court for mercy.

“I’ve never had to do much in the way of discipline,” his father, Timothy Spory, said. “He’s been a good kid.”

“He is one of the most polite, well-behaved young men that I have every represented,” Somerset Attorney David Leake said after the sentencing. 

“I’ve never had a case where I’ve had somebody that had allegations that were so uncharacteristic of him.”

Leake said that Spory was 20 years old at the time and has no criminal record.

Geary said that he also believed Spory’s actions were out of character.

“But there are aspects that fall on the other side of the equation that disturbed me,” Geary said.

The judge recounted Spory’s actions from how he parked his car and walked through the woods to get to the house. 

He noted how Spory unscrewed a light bulb from the porch light and crept into the house through an unlocked door. And after standing by Stoppe’s bed thinking what he would do, he decided to attack the man in his bed.

Geary called the crime premeditated and malicious.

“The only thing that prevents this from being a homicide was Mr. Stoppe’s instinct for survival,” Geary said. “He fought for his life.” 

A charge of attempted criminal homicide was withdrawn as part of the plea deal. 

“We’re pleased that the court recognized that our office had already taken the mitigating factors into consideration in the plea offer,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Carbonara said. 

“The defendant committed a heinous crime that could have been a lot worse.”

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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