Family forced to cope with another loss

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The Christmas season won’t bring much joy to the Pettaway family in Orrville.

They have lost two family members from one senseless act.

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It’s their second year without their father, who was killed by a nephew in an alcohol-related shooting. The nephew, Jerry Wise, was sentenced to life in prison this week in Dallas County Circuit Court.

Wise was described by family members as &8220;out of control&8221; when he drank alcohol, which became more and more frequent.

One of those episodes led to the shooting death of his uncle. Judge Jack Meigs sentenced Wise to life in prison Tuesday for the Feb. 20, 2006, death of Joseph L. Pettaway, who tried to stop Wise from driving after he had been drinking.

Wise, 62, is an amputee. He worked with his uncle and cousins using his one hand in their construction and painting business. Testimony during the trial last summer revealed his uncle had begun to distance himself because Wise wanted to drink.

During the September 2007 trial Wise’s son testified his father was drinking the day he put in him his lap on a dirt road and let him steer. The 13-year-old said he saw his father take a pill, then drink some beer as they drove down a dirt road. While the youth steered the car went into a ditch and they had to get help pulling the car out.

A Dallas County jury deliberated 40 minutes before finding Wise guilty of murder.

After they were back home, Joseph Pettaway took the car keys from Wise and threw them up onto the roof of their mobile home. Wise then went inside and returned with a pistol. He headed straight for Pettaway, firing at least two shots.

Jaces Pettaway said he knocked Wise down to keep him from shooting his father again.

Michael Jackson, district attorney, said prosecutors were pleased.