TOWANDA - Stephen Shave was sentenced to two to five years in prison in Bradford County Court on Thursday for the 2010 shooting death of his wife, Tara Shave.

Stephen Shave, 40, of Litchfield, was convicted in Bradford County Court on July 31 of involuntary manslaughter, in which he was charged with shooting and killing his wife in December 2010 with a 30-06 assault rifle. Although the prosecution argued during the trial that the defendant had deliberately shot Tara Shave, Stephen Shave contended to the authorities and during the proceedings that he had not known the rifle was loaded during the incident, and that the shooting was an accident.

Bradford County Judge Jeffrey Smith handed down the sentence in what he termed the "high end" of the spectrum because a "deadly weapon" was involved.

Before the sentence was handed down, Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett called several of Tara Shave's family members to the stand - including her father, mother and two sisters - who informed the court the affect her death has had on them as well as other relatives and friends. Many became tearful and found it difficult to speak while providing their testimony - which lasted over an hour - and urged Judge Smith to impose the maximum penalty of 5 years incarceration allowed under the law.

During the sentencing, Judge Smith also order Stephen Shave to pay a $5,000 fine, and to make restitution of $10,980. The defendant will receive credit for the nearly 16 months he has been incarcerated since his arrest on the charges, but will serve the rest of his time in a state correctional institution. Steven Shave will be eligible for parole once he has served the minimum of two years. Whether or not Shave will be granted parole will be determined by the state Board of Probation and Parole.

Smith explained during sentencing that the standard range of incarceration for involuntary manslaughter is 15 to 24 months. However, because the incident involved a deadly weapon, he continued, a high end sentence is appropriate in this case. From what he has seen, the judge said, Stephen Shave's grief and remorse seems to be merely "superficial," but added that this may just be the way the defendant thinks.

Smith also said that he hopes the sentence will send a message to others that all weapons must be handled as if they are loaded.