Former UVA Officer Freed Following Sentencing in Son's Death

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A man convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his adult son is walking away from court a free man.

Former University of Virginia Police Officer Donald Theodore Short entered Albemarle Circuit Court Tuesday, December 5, for sentencing. The 85-year-old defendant had entered an Alford plea back on August 25, 2017, admitting there was enough evidence to convict him.

Short had previously been facing a charge of second-degree murder and and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. However, the prosecution acknowledged that the former officer was acting in self-defense when he shot 47-year-old Matthew Short on November 9, 2016.

The defendant claimed his son was "out of control." The victim had a history of mental illness, as well as drug abuse.

The victim's brother, Eddie Short, had testified that Matthew punched him in his face and put him in a headlock. Eddie claimed that their father came down the stairs, shot Matthew in the side, told Eddie to move, and shot Matthew again in the leg.

Matthew Short died three days later.

"The legal response to this should have been increased institutional and community support for people like Matthew and their families. They shouldn't have to feel alone, anxious and fearful," said Holly Vradenbrugh, Short’s attorney.

A probation officer told the court that Donald Short was very active in community service and volunteering while out on bond.

The defendant’s daughter provided a victim’s statement in court Tuesday in support of Donald Short. She read out, "Punishing my father with more time would only accentuate the suffering for all of us."

Tuesday, a judged sentenced Short to a prison term of 5 years, but suspended all but 10 days. Since he had already served 11 days behind bars, Short was set free.

Vradenbrugh said it has been a painful 13 months for the Short family and they are ready to move forward.