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A 48-year-old man caught up in an internet love triangle was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing his rival after being dumped by the woman they both competed for.

Thomas Montgomery of Cheektowaga, New York, pleaded guilty in August to the shooting death of 22-year-old Brian Barrett while he sat in a pickup truck shortly after work ended.

Montgomery had passed himself off as an 18-year-old Marine in online chats with a middle-aged West Virginia mother, identified as Mary Sheiler. Never mind that the woman herself posed as an 18-year-old student by using photos of her daughter. When she learned the truth about Montgomery, their online romance cooled and she turned her attention to Barrett.

“When he could no longer get the Sheiler girl, the chats reveal an obsessive desire to make Brian Barrett suffer and to make her suffer,” prosecuting attorney Frank Sedita said.

Montgomery and Sheiler began chatting in 2005. The woman learned the truth about her online lover after mailing him a package. It was intercepted by the man's wife, who contacted Sheiler to tell her his age and marital status. The couple never met face to face.

Montgomery then sought out Barrett, who had been mentioned in the online exchanges.

"My wife and I don't understand how this could happen, how such evil could walk the Earth," Barrett's father, Daniel, said during the sentencing hearing. "To gun down a boy over simple jealousy does not make sense to us."

Coverage from the Tonawanda News and the Associated Press are available here and here. ®

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