On one side of the courtroom, David Buckley spoke in a soft voice about being left with “seven scars and one broken heart.”
Listening on the other side of the courtroom was his son, who had inflicted the damage.
Ethan Buckley was sentenced Tuesday in Warren Circuit Court to 10 years in prison, having pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a charge of first-degree assault.
The younger Buckley, 21, was arrested Aug. 14 at Hillvue Heights Church after multiple witnesses reported he had stabbed his father with a knife during a worship service.
At the sentencing hearing, Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron called David Buckley as a witness.
After being sworn in by Warren Circuit Judge John Grise, David Buckley expressed gratitude to his family, Hillvue Heights members, hospital employees and law enforcement who helped him through a traumatic event.
“I forgave Ethan in that ambulance,” David Buckley said. “I wanted him to hear that from me. It’s my wish that he’s able to get the help he needs and he’ll make something of his life.”
Ethan Buckley told Bowling Green Police Department officers shortly after the incident at the Nashville Road church that he was “moved by the sermon and decided to kill his dad,” according to court records.
A Hillvue Heights pastor who was walking the aisles during an altar call told city police that he heard yelling, and that he jumped over chairs and grabbed Ethan Buckley’s arms from behind when he realized what was happening.
The father and son had been living in a Bowling Green hotel at the time of the incident.
In an affidavit for a search warrant that was later executed at the hotel room, BGPD Detective Mike Nade wrote that Ethan Buckley “stated his father’s time here on earth was up because he had done a lot of good things in his life.”
Nade documented in the affidavit that Ethan Buckley said he resented his father “because his father was such a good guy” while he was struggling with drug addiction.
Ethan Buckley underwent a psychiatric evaluation while in custody, and was determined competent to stand trial.
He will be required to serve eight and a half years before he becomes eligible to be considered for parole.
“I know this is an extraordinarily emotional situation for a father and son, and I believe the resolution arrived at … is a fair one,” Warren Circuit Judge John Grise said in court. “This will allow Mr. Buckley to get the type of attention I believe he needs.” (KPA)