The Florence man accused of shooting Branden Zagorianakos after a fight at a North Orchard Avenue home on January 29, 2021, was sentenced, according to his plea agreement, on Tuesday to a 10-year suspended sentence at the Department of correctional services.
As long as Orion Alder Nolan successfully completes eight years of supervised probation and other requirements outlined by District Judge Kaitlin Turner, the DOC sentence will disappear.
Nolan, 45, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, a Class 4 felony. He was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
The men were at the North Orchard Avenue residence when a fight broke out between the two and Nolan shot Zagorianakos in the back. The bullet passed through his body and exited through his chest. He was stabilized at St. Thomas More Hospital before being airlifted to a hospital in Colorado Springs, where he was later released.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Zagorianakos, 25, said he fully opposed the plea deal and its terms for a number of reasons, most of which were due to the fact that he had shot in the back “for no reason”.
“I never met (Nolan) in my life – I had no idea who he was, there was no reason for it,” he said. “The competition between him and me was over, so there was no reason for it, and he still felt the urge to try and kill me.”
He said he lived in fear every day, continually looking over his shoulder wondering if someone was going to shoot him again.
“The punishment he receives is a slap on the wrist for something that should be punished with more respect,” he said. “I sat in intensive care for five and a half weeks fighting for my life when I shouldn’t have to and he just happens to walk, in my eyes.”
Nolan apologized for his actions and said he did not come to the residence that night with the intention of harming anyone.
“I had the gun on me because a neighbor told me there was a mountain lion in the neighborhood, and I used it to defend myself,” he said. “I am absolutely ready to follow any program to put all of this in the past, behind us. I want to move on and build from there.
But Turner said he shouldn’t take the incident “behind him.”
“It’s really something else waiting for you now,” she said. “Eight years of probation will not come without hard work.”
Nolan has no criminal history except for a few traffic violations. Turner said the probation service also agreed with the sentence.
Turner also prohibited Nolan from accessing, possessing or using dangerous firearms and weapons and asked him to maintain full-time employment and undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations. He is also prohibited from possessing or consuming alcohol, illegal drugs, and marijuana without a valid prescription, must complete 150 hours of meaningful public service, and must write a letter of apology to Zagorianakos.
“There are no red flags to indicate that it wouldn’t be successful,” Assistant District Attorney Liz Drake said. “The defendant has a significant sentence hanging over his head if he fails to do so.”