Admitted shooter gets maximum sentence
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting a man in his car was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Richard Bernard Hilliard, 24, faced three to 15 years in prison for the shooting of David Juaboi Booker, who had attempted to rob Hilliard and another man as they sat in a car on Oct. 11, 2012. Hilliard pleaded guilty last month in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Police believe Hilliard, Andre Williamson and Booker went driving around the West Side looking for someone to rob, then went to the city's East End, where Booker allegedly pulled out a gun and pointed it at Williamson. Then, Hilliard pulled his own gun and shot Booker.
Williamson and an innocent bystander were hit in a hail of gunfire last month in a shooting police believe was in retaliation for Booker's death. Neither was killed.
At Hilliard's sentencing hearing before Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom, Hilliard's lawyer argued for leniency in sentencing. Defense attorney Shawn Bayliss said Hilliard had gotten involved in the wrong crowd and had allowed drugs to influence his actions.
Bayliss filed separate motions asking that Hilliard be given probation, that he be allowed to attend the Anthony Correctional Center for young adults, where he could get rehabilitative training, and that he be given a diagnostic evaluation.
"We have a young man here with potential," Bayliss said, "and we have an opportunity to change his life."
Hilliard told Bloom he was sorry for what he had done.
"It wasn't planned," he said. "I just overreacted."
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach disagreed, saying the shootings were part of an epidemic of drug-related violence in Charleston.
"This case is about drugs, guns and death," Giggenbach said. "This calls for the maximum sentence of 15 years."
Bloom told Hilliard that he had an illegal gun at the time of the shooting and showed extremely poor judgment that left someone dead.
"There are no innocents in this type of transaction," Bloom said. "We have an epidemic in this community of gun violence."
Bloom said "nothing but the maximum" sentence would be appropriate, and sentenced Hilliard to 15 years.
Reach Rusty Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1215.