The question is common to most crime victims: "Why me?"
The answer that Daren Dieter - paralyzed from the neck down in a shooting last year - got was anything but.
"I think me and Mr. Dieter know why," Tyree Bohannon, the admitted gunman, told Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright yesterday. "It was over money, basically. There were a few things we both know we shouldn't have been involved in. But doing it for money is no excuse."
Bright, who sentenced Bohannon to 15 to 30 years in prison, broke the silence that blanketed the courtroom:
"It was over money. How much?"
"Seventy-five thousand dollars," Bohannon, 22, replied.
Then Dieter - son of city consumer advocate Lance Haver - belted into his wheelchair across the courtroom, breaking his silence: "This is news to me. I don't know anything about this. . . . I never had $75,000 in my life."
Bohannon's allegation, at the end of a hearing where he pleaded guilty to attempted murder, aggravated assault, and a gun charge in a plea deal with the prosecutor, stunned and angered the Haver family.
Haver called it outrageous that Bohannon should accuse Dieter when he was under oath while pleading guilty and accepting responsibility for his crime.
Afterward, Dieter, 26, flanked by his father and mother, Lisa Haver, denied knowing Bohannon before the Sept. 22, 2007, shooting that also wounded a friend, Elina Henri, 24, in one arm.
Dieter and Assistant District Attorney Peter Erdely said they believed he was targeted because of a convoluted dispute involving a man to whom Dieter had lent his 1995 Nissan.
Defense attorney Kevin V. Mincey declined to elaborate on Bohannon's statements. Asked whether gunman and victim knew each other before the incident, Mincey said: "According to Mr. Bohannon."
Police said that shortly before midnight on Sept. 22, 2007, Dieter and Henri drove to get takeout food from Shrimpie's Bar at 1910 W. Cheltenham Ave. The bar is near Bohannon's house in East Oak Lane.
Dieter had picked up his order and was back in the car with Henri when, police say, Bohannon walked up to the car. Dieter rolled down the window, Erdley said, and Bohannon said "something about Dave."
Bohannon then began firing at point-blank range. Erdley said one bullet hit Dieter in the left side of his neck, severed his spinal court, exited the right chest, and lodged in one of Henri's arms.
Bohannon fled but was identified by a relative from a bar security camera video released to the media. Erdley said Bohannon was arrested Oct. 31, 2007, south of Atlanta.
Dieter said the events leading to the shooting began about 10 days earlier when a man he knew casually from the neighborhood offered him $80 to borrow his car for a few hours. The man, whom Dieter did not identify, let him have his pickup truck.
As day followed day and the car did not return, Dieter said that he considered calling police, but that ultimately the car was returned after a tense meeting with the borrower and several friends.
Erdley said investigators believed the borrower was an associate or relative of "Dave's." Erdley said that Dave - he declined to identify him because he was not involved in the shooting - had been arrested May 30, 2007, in Bucks County on a stolen-car charge and that he believed Dieter had something to do with it.
Bohannon was in the car with Dave when he was arrested, Erdley said, and "we believe Bohannon became the executioner."
Bohannon apologized yesterday to Dieter and the Haver family - "I pray for him every night to get better" - and said he pleaded guilty in order to accept responsibility for what he did and begin a new life.
Dieter spoke movingly for almost 20 minutes in a victim-impact statement to the judge, describing life since he was shot.
"I only exist because I have enough people around me to make me exist," said Dieter, who maneuvered his motorized wheelchair to the front of the courtroom using a breathing tube.
Dieter said he had been told that he would never breathe on his own. Instead, he said, he worked to wean himself from the ventilator, first for three minutes, then 15, then 30, until he breathed on his own.
Although he has achieved motion in his head and neck, Dieter, a graphic designer and artist, said he will never have the use of his arms or hands.
"There is no justice in this case," Dieter told the judge. "In 15 to 20 years, he'll walk away a free man and live the rest of his life. In 15 to 20 years, I'll still be incarcerated in my body."