‘A millimeter from murder’ Chester youth, 17, vows in court to be ‘different person’

A Chester teen who was part of a home invasion in which a woman was shot in the heart in a “millimeter from murder” incident was sentenced to at least three years in prison Thursday – after the victim survived and asked for mercy for her attacker.

Michael Cohen Jr. 17, of Chester, was 16 years old in September, when he and a second suspect who was 14 at the time broke into the woman’s home on Academy Street, near the Chester County Courthouse where Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday, prosecutors said in court.

Cohen and the juvenile confessed to the crime, but each claimed the other was the shooter, court testimony Thursday showed.

The victim survived a shot through the door that pierced her chest and her heart, prosecutor Karen Fryar said.

The victim, who “miraculously survived,” wrote a letter to the court asking that Cohen not get a long sentence in prison so that the young attackers would have a chance to change their lives, Fryar said.

“The victim wanted them to get help, not spend years in prison,” Fryar said.

The victim was not in court Thursday, and moved away from Chester after she was shot.

Prosecutors and Cohen’s lawyer, Nathan Sheldon, agreed to a youthful offender sentence of three to six years on charges of assault and battery, burglary and a weapons charge.

Sheldon, who represented the mastermind of a murder for hire plot in 2015, where Cohen’s older brother was the shooter and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, thanked prosecutors and the victim for the “generous” offer that would give Michael Cohen a chance at life after prison.

“A centimeter, a millimeter, and this is a murder,” Sheldon said. “The bullet nicked her heart.”

Michael Cohen Jr. had been charged with attempted murder, burglary and weapons charges. If convicted, he could have faced as much as 70 years in prison before the plea deal was made.

Cohen in court thanked the victim for asking prosecutors to give him a second chance after just a few years in prison.

When he gets out, Cohen said he will be a “different person” than the one involved in the shooting crime.