Prison Guard Speaks Out After Inmate's Sentencing

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The man who ordered a hit that resulted in a corrections officer being shot 6 times was given a maximum sentence Wednesday.

"I'm content with what we were able to get," said Capt. Robert Johnson, a retired corrections officer who worked at Lee Correctional Institute.

Johnson still deals with medical complications after being shot at his home by a disgruntled inmate. The incident was organized by a prisoner inside who used contraband, a cellphone, to organize the shooting.

"When I came out of the bathroom, I recognized immediately that it was an inmate," Johnson said. "Once the gun came up, we tussled. I don't remember bullets being fired."

Echols pleaded guilty back in April for conspiracy to arrange a murder for hire.

"It's a constant everyday battle and that's what Captain Johnson was doing. He was doing his job trying to find the contraband," said Dept of Corrections Director Bryan Sterling.

Sterling says a way to prevent contraband cell phones from working at the prison is in the works.

"Everyday we're working on trying to prevent contraband from coming in. That said, the inmates are there all the time and continuously thinking about how to bring contraband in," Sterling said. "So, for the safety of my officers and staff, we have to be constantly thinking about how to prevent it from coming in."

In the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Echols addressed Capt. Johnson and asked for his forgiveness. Johnson forgave him but says Echols hasn't cooperated and deserved a maximum sentence.

"If he wanted to cooperate, he would have," Johnson said. "I gave the attorneys my approval to do whatever was necessary to get everyone if that meant giving him virtually no time."


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