- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Chaptico teenager was sentenced Wednesday to serve one year in the St. Mary’s jail after pleading guilty to possessing a regulated firearm while under the age of 21, from a drive-by shooting last September along Hurry Road that put a bullet hole in a car.
A judge suspended the rest of a five-year prison sentence imposed on Andrew Thomas Vaden, now 19, from the weapons offense, and a one-year sentence from his guilty plea to property destruction in the case also was suspended.
Last December, a Bushwood teenager, who was one day shy of his 18th birthday when the shooting occurred, was put on house arrest and ordered to perform 60 hours of community service following his admission in juvenile court to illegally transporting a handgun and driving while impaired. District court charging papers alleged the Bushwood teenager was driving a pickup truck on Hurry Road, when Vaden fired a pistol round that hit the 2001 Pontiac being moved from the side of the road by its owner’s husband.
Richard Suite, called to the witness stand by Vaden’s lawyer, testified Wednesday that he was checking a tire on the car.
“I was kneeling down beside it,” Suite said. “I heard something ‘pop’, and I jumped up. There was a bullet hole.”
Suite said he drove the car away from the scene, and that he went back to the road just as the truck and its occupants rode by again and disregarded his attempts to make them stop.
St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies filed court papers alleging that police found the truck and the two suspects in Helen, and that the Bushwood teenager led the officers to a creek off Manor Road where they recovered the .25-caliber Colt weapon that he said he’d found about two months earlier.
On Wednesday, Gina Suite, the car’s owner, testified that her husband could have been killed by the gunfire.
“It is horrible. It is not a joke,” she said.
Joseph Vallario III, Vaden’s lawyer, said there was no intent to cause physical harm to anyone, and that his client would pay $372 in lost wages incurred by the couple after the incident.
“I made a bad decision by drinking that day,” Vaden said in court. “I just want to say that I’m so sorry to that family.”
Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm said, “Everyone’s remorseful when they appear before a court, because their freedom is on the line. Everyone’s sorry when they walk in here.”
The judge ordered that Vaden be on supervised probation for two years after he is released from jail, and said the active sentence outside a recommended guidelines range was being imposed in part because of the “vicious nature of the conduct.”
Stamm noted that the other teenager charged in the case had paid $580 in restitution for damages to the car.