CANANDAIGUA — An Ontario County prosecutor said “bad decisions and hanging around the wrong people” will cost a Geneva man several years in state prison in a case connected to the 2018 shooting of Michael Cosentino.
Ontario County Assistant District Attorney Jason MacBride said Timetheus Merritt was sentenced Monday morning by County Court Judge Craig Doran to five years in prison and five years’ probation after pleading guilty in late March to second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Merritt could have received up to 15 years in prison for the charge.
MacBride said Merritt hid a gun that co-defendant Erin Rhynes used to shoot Cosentino in Geneva in April 2018.
Rhynes was convicted on March 19 of attempted murder in the case, as well as assault, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon.
Cosentino was shot in the head three times about 6:30 a.m. in his pickup truck on Lewis Street in Geneva. He survived the shooting but suffered brain injuries as a result.
“His (Merritt) poor decision-making had devastating consequences” for Cosentino and the family, MacBride said.
He noted that Merritt’s own family is affected as well, as the Geneva man is a father who now will be behind bars for a substantial period of time.
“He makes bad decisions, and in this case, he decided to help his friend (Rhynes) by hiding his gun and clothing,” said MacBride.
A DNA analyst from the Monroe County Crime Lab testified that Rhynes’ DNA was on the gun found in Merritt’s home. Police believe Rhynes shot Cosentino because he owed him money. Rhynes denied he was the shooter.
MacBride said the DA’s office did not provide a sentencing recommendation to Doran for Merritt.
“He admitted to what he did,” said MacBride. “We were more interested in Mr. Rhynes, who got 55 years in prison. The most culpable person got the maximum sentence.”
Merritt refused to testify in the case against Rhynes, MacBride added.
With the sentencing, there is only one loose end left to the case — that of restitution. A hearing is set for June 24, and the Cosentino family wants Rhynes to pay about $19,000 to the family for medical bills, mileage to Strong Memorial Hospital, where the shooting victim was treated, and lost wages.