Crime

Thief who shot store employee sentenced. Victim tells judge of physical pain, anguish

Rylan Marki was sentenced to 19 years in prison Thursday for shooting an O’Reilly Auto Parts store employee last April.
Rylan Marki was sentenced to 19 years in prison Thursday for shooting an O’Reilly Auto Parts store employee last April.

A convicted felon was sentenced to 19 years in prison Thursday for shooting of an employee at the O’Reilly Auto Parts in north Fresno last year.

Rylan Marki, 28, tried to shoplift a few items from the parts store when an employee confronted he and a friend. A fight ensued and the employee, Steve Austin, 48, a Marine veteran, was shot by Marki, police said.

Austin spoke at Thursday’s sentencing hearing before Judge Heather Jones.

He said the April shooting has left him a shattered man — mentally, physically and emotionally. He had worked at the store for more than 12 years and enjoyed helping and engaging with customers. That’s all ended, he said.

The bullet from Marki’s gun blasted a hole in his pelvic bone and the scar tissue around it makes even simple tasks, like riding a bike or hiking, painful. He also said the memory of that night still haunts him.

“…I don’t feel safe at that store,” he said. “I have continued to see a psychologist to help me deal with fear and anxiety issues. The anxiety I feel makes me spend more time at home and many of my friendships have suffered.”

Austin has returned to work part-time, but at a different store, and he urged the judge to give Marki the maximum sentence of 19 years.

Marki apologized to Austin in court, saying he did not intend to hurt anyone that night. He admitted it was a stupid mistake. His lawyer Annette Smurr said Marki was high on alcohol and prescription painkillers that night.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart for causing you and your family so much pain and suffering,” he said.

Marki told the judge that he deserved to be punished, but he also deserved a chance to start a new life. He wanted a 10 year sentence.

More than a dozen family members appeared in court, with several pleading for a shorter sentence, plus drug rehabilitation.

Marki admitted he’s been a drug addict for nearly half his life. He’s also married and has a 2-year-old daughter.

His wife, Michaela Marki, said recalled that night as one that started out with her husband trying to cheer a friend up. He and the friend went out, got drunk and then things spun out of control at the auto parts store.

“My husband was just trying to protect this friend,” she said.

But the judge did not see it that way. She said it was clear the Marki showed the weapon he had in his waistband to the employee and then used it when a fight started and they tried to get away.

“You are lucky you are not facing a murder charge,” Jones said. “You easily could have hit a femoral artery and he could have bled to death while you drove away in your Audi.”

As part of Marki’s plea deal with the Fresno County District Attorney’s office, he pleaded no contest to assault with a semiautomatic firearm, plus an enhancement. In exchange, the DA dropped second degree robbery and assault with a firearm.

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