5 Points Suspect Gets 10 Years on Gun Charge

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The man charged with shooting a University of South Carolina student last fall has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on a gun charge.

A judge handed down the penalty against Michael Juan Smith Friday morning at the federal courthouse in Columbia. The sentence is the maximum allowed by law on this charge..

Columbia Police say Smith shot 19-year-old Martha Childress in Five Points on October 13th, 2013. According to investigators, he was targeting someone else and ended up hitting her with his gunfire.

The shooting left Childress paralyzed.

He plead guilty to the weapons offense in February. Prosecutors say he was not supposed to have a gun because he had a prior conviction.

Before sentencing, Smith apologized, and his mother told the court that he'd been raised in the church. However, prosecutors countered with a transcript of a jailhouse audio recording, where Smith complained about his case was being portrayed in the media. He also questioned if Childress was actually paralyzed, according to prosecutors.

Jurors also played a security tape from that night that showed Childress being injured. Childress and her family, who were present for Friday's hearing, left during that presentation.

In sentencing him, the judge also rejected defense claims the gun was needed for self-defense. During testimony, Smith had tried to say that he felt threatened, and that's why he pulled out the weapon.

In pleading to the gun charge, Smith did not admit any guilt in the shooting. He still must face local charges in connection with the incident.

A trial date on those charges has not yet been announced.


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