Man found guilty of murder in Southpark fatal shooting, robbery - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Man found guilty of murder in Southpark fatal shooting, robbery

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The man accused of fatally shooting a hospital executive during a robbery in Southpark was found guilty by a Mecklenburg County jury.

Chauncey Sterling fatally shot Robert Barber during a robbery in 2011.  He was also found guilty of attempted robbery with a firearm.

Sterling reportedly had no reaction to the guilty verdict.  The courtroom took a ten minute recess after the verdicts were announced.

His sister left the courtroom crying.

It took the jury less than an hour to find him guilty. He will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole.

During testimony on Wednesday, Sterling said that he panicked during the crime and victim grabbed for the gun.

Barber had just left Caribou Coffee on Fairview Road after meeting with his wife. She drove to work when they were done and he chose to walk back home.

During questioning, Sterling admitted that he followed Barber from the coffee shop with the intent of robbing him. 

That's when Sterling says he panicked, saying he had never robbed anyone before. He was thinking about backing out of the robbery, he said on the stand Wednesday, when Barber turned around, saw him and grabbed for Sterling's gun.

Barber, a retired Air Force colonel, was shot and killed during the struggle for the gun.

"He turned around he was like 'whoa', he put his hands and grabbed the barrel, and turned it towards me.  I pulled away, he lunged toward me and I fired, I don't know why I fired, I just fired, I don't know I just panicked," he said.

Sterling says he told his sister in a text message that he used her gun to kill someone. He said that she told him to turn himself in, which he did. He was 18 at the time of the murder.

Barber's wife was on the stand Wednesday morning for the state.

She says she saw a news report during her lunch break that there had been a fatal shooting and was 'alarmed.' 

Opening statements on Tuesday in the trial of Chauncey Sterling started with both attorneys leaving no doubt about who shot Robert Barber.

During testimony of the first witness, Sterling himself is heard in a police recording saying he pulled the trigger. Twice.

"Chauncey Sterling made it home that day. Robert Barber did not," said Assistant District Attorney Jamie Adams. She said Sterling shot Barber and left him to die.

Defense attorney Scott Gsell said the case was not a "whodunit." Gsell said it's a "why done it."

"Your job is to find out why," Gsell told the jury. He is expected to argue the shooting does not rise to the level of first degree murder.

A taped confession was played in court on Tuesday where Sterling was heard saying, "I don't know no reason why. I just went crazy."

Sterling hung his head down in court while listening to the taped interview. His family, including his sister, cried and left the courtroom.

The Barber family also appeared upset listening to the tape. In it, Sterling is heard describing a struggle over the gun.

"I felt like he was trying to pull the trigger on me," Sterling is heard telling Sgt. Sterrett. When questioned more about how the struggle went down, Sterling said, "I just pulled it back and I shot him."

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