COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The man charged in the Five Points shooting that injured a University of South Carolina student said the media was making a big deal out of the case because the victim was white.
Michael Juan Smith was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in federal court Friday. In February he pleaded guilty to possessing a weapon as a felon, admitting possessing a pistol that was taken across state lines before it was stolen in Richland County.
Smith still faces state charges related to the shooting. If convicted on those charges, he must serve the 10-year federal sentence in addition to what time he receives from the state.
Smith was charged with assault and battery and several weapons-related charges after the shooting in Five Points in 2013 that left Martha Childress paralyzed.
Friday, prosecutors played audio recordings of Smith's jail conversations, who said the media was making a big deal about the case "because she's white."
"I didn't try to shoot that d__n b___h," said another recording.
As she heard this, Childress cried and asked for a facial tissue.
Smith, who has previous felony convictions, did not admit firing the weapon or shooting Childress.
Police say Smith opened fire on two men he was arguing with on Harden Street on an early October morning in 2013.
However, the bullets missed their intended targets and instead struck Childress in the midsection, severing her spinal cord and forcing her to spend the rest of her days in a wheelchair.
Smith's defense claimed he fired in self-defense, but Judge Joe Anderson rejected that argument, saying there was no reason for him to have a gun and fire into a crowd.
Prosecutors also showed surveillance video of the shooting, which shows Childress falling near the Five Points fountain as shots were fired.