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Man gets 10 years in accidental shooting

CONYERS -- The potential for guns to be deadly when put in careless hands was brought to light again when Rockdale County Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation sentenced a 20-year-old man for accidentally shooting a then-15-year-old boy in the chest.

Sandino Medell Aikens of Covington was sentenced Thursday to 10 years, with five years to serve in confinement and the balance on probation, after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The December 2008 incident happened when Aikens and other men were "kind of just hanging around," Assistant District Attorney Paul Stalcup told the court. Stalcup said according to witnesses, the victim had a .22-caliber revolver, attempted to fire the weapon in the air and tried to figure out why the weapon would not fire. The victim then handed the gun to Aikens, who got the gun to fire and shot the victim in the process. The victim, now 17 years old, survived the shooting.

Stalcup said there were several different stories about the incident from witnesses, who originally said they did not witness it.

Chief Public Defender Steven Purvis, Aikens' attorney, told the judge Aikens left the scene and ran to his mother's house to call for help.

"The police report said after the gun discharged, (the victim) said 'I've been shot.' His friends said, 'No, you're joking.' At that point, (the victim) opened up his jacket and blood was seen," Purvis said.

Purvis said Aikens made the initial call to police, then gave the phone to his mother, who told Aikens to turn himself in to authorities.

"Why is it that we have such a fascination with guns?" Nation asked. "Why is it fashionable to play with a pistol?"

Nation referenced a March case involving Terrence (T.J.) Dorsey, a Covington teen who lost his life in February 2009 when another teen fired a 9mm gun in the backseat of a SUV, shooting the teen in the back. Kenneth Jerome Hixson, 17, told authorities he thought the weapon's safety was on when it discharged. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years, five to serve in confinement.

"What's in your mind when you're out there with a pistol with a bunch of people, one of whom is 15 years old? What in the world are you thinking about?" Nation asked.

"I wasn't thinking," Aikens told the judge.

Nation said it was good the victim was not killed in the ordeal or Aikens would had been going to jail for a "long, long, long, long time."

Aikens, who has no prior criminal record, will receive first offender treatment.

Nation asked the state prosecutor what would become of the weapon. The judge said he wanted to make sure it is destroyed.

"I don't want anyone else shot with it," Nation said.