Grant Spencer sentenced to 20 years in prison

By The George-Anne staff

After being held in Bulloch County Jail for over two years, Grant Spencer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, with no chance for parole for at least 13 years, for voluntary manslaughter of Michael Gatto during his court date Tuesday morning.

Spencer was originally charged with one count of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault, however Spencer’s attorneys and the State prosecutor reached a plea deal, dropping the aggravated assault charge and reducing the felony murder to voluntary manslaughter. 

The remainder of the court proceedings were spent deliberating whether Spencer would be sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act. The act would allow Spencer to be considered for an accelerated education program while in prison and would grant him the ability to apply for parole in six years. 

The State prosecutor called five members of Gatto’s immediate and extended family to testify, while three of Spencer’s family, and Spencer himself, testified on behalf of his defense.

“The ripple of effect of this crime have been far reaching and devastating.” Kathy Lee Gatto, Michael Gatto’s mother, stated in her testimony.

“I made a terrible, terrible mistake.” Grant Spencer said in his testimony. “I’m accepting rehabilitation.”

The death of Michael Gatto affected Statesboro in a large way. The laws that came afterward in an attempt to prevent further related instances, however, have affected all of Georgia. 

Georgia wide, bars and restaurants are now legally obligated to adhere to Michael’s law. The law changes and regulates the way that bars and restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol.

For many Georgians, this has changed their social life and the way they can spend their time. Restaurants that include bars after are required to ID everyone in the restaurant after 10:30 p.m.