CONYERS -- In Rockdale County Superior Court this week, a state prosecutor said the man sentenced to jail time for a residential burglary should "thank his lucky stars" that the resident did not fatally shoot him during the invasion.
Brandon Prescott Copeland, 21, of Ellenwood pleaded guilty to one count of burglary Wednesday under a negotiated plea with state prosecutors.
Judge David Irwin followed the state's recommendation and sentenced Copeland to 10 years, with three to be served in confinement.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Bob Houman said the incident happened last September at a home in the northwestern part of the county.
The 74-year-old woman in the home awoke to a barking dog. Houman said the woman bred Maltese dogs and thought one of the dogs was about to give birth. Instead, the woman found two intruders in her home. Both of the men were holding Maltese puppies, which court reports estimated to be worth at least $750 each.
The two men, one later identified as Copeland, motioned for her to go back to bed and told her that "everything will be OK."
Houman said the woman backed away into her dining room, took out her .38 caliber weapon and fired a shot at Copeland.
"The only reason she missed him is she was concerned about hitting the dog," Houman told the court. "He (Copeland) better thank his lucky stars."
Copeland was arrested about a month after the incident, according to court records.
Lawrence Morton, Copeland's attorney, told the judge that Copeland is set to graduate next week and said his client realized he made a mistake.
"He did cooperate in providing the name of the other individual and identifying him as such," Morton said.
Besides jail time, the judge also ordered Copeland to pay a $1,000 fine, $827 in restitution and have no contact with the victim or the property.
"Everybody's lucky that everybody's still alive," Irwin said. "He (Copeland) may not be so lucky again."
The other burglar has not yet been arrested, the state prosecutor said.