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Caroline man gets five years for shooting

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A Caroline County man will serve five years in prison for shooting a man outside of a convenience store in Dawn.

Judge Patricia Kelley sentenced 58-year-old Wayne “Chico” Harris to an 18-year term in prison with all but five years suspended in Caroline Circuit Court Wednesday. Harris had an ongoing feud with the shooting victim, according to testimony.

The judge ordered Harris to serve his sentence in a rehabilitation setting, which helps inmates who have drug problems.

“I’m ordering you to be in a therapeutic community because you have been a drug addict since 1984,” she said. “It’s 2014 now and that’s a long time to be on drugs.”

Harris told an investigator after the shooting that he would not have done it if he wasn’t “crazy high” on cocaine.

Harris was convicted in January of malicious wounding, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Defense attorney David Whaley said Harris plans to appeal.

At trial, Harris testified that he was in fear of his life and shot 39-year-old Larry Jackson in self-defense on the night of June 24 at the Dawn Convenience Store on U.S. 301 in southern Caroline.

Both Jackson and Harris testified that Harris pulled up next to Jackson while he was parked at the convenience store and had a brief conversation before Harris shot him in the chest with a .38 revolver while they were both still sitting in their vehicles.

The bullet went through Jackson’s body and came out near his arm, but no vital organs were hit. He has fully recovered.

A few weeks before this incident, Harris testified, he told Jackson to leave his house and not to come back. He described Jackson as “a bully” and said that he “didn’t know how to act.”

Three days later, he said, Jackson came back to his house, but he wouldn’t let him in. Harris testified that within an hour, Jackson shot at his house and shot out the back window of his car with either a shotgun or pellet gun.

Harris said Jackson told him if he called the police he would kill him.

Harris testified that when he saw Jackson at the store, he stopped his car to try to make peace with him and ask him to pay for his car window. Instead, he said Jackson threatened him and reached for what he thought was a gun. Police did not find a gun in Jackson’s possession that day.

According to Jackson, Harris asked him about the window and then pulled out the gun, shot him and drove away.

Judge Kelly said she had a hard time deciding who to believe because both men are convicted felons. Harris described himself to police when he was arrested as a crack cocaine addict, and Jackson admitted to lying under oath in a previous court case that involved Harris.

Kelley did not agree with Harris’ self-defense claim mainly because he went to Jackson at the store with a gun. She said if he was in fear of his life, he could have kept on going.

“I’m sorry this whole situation had to come about,” Harris said. “I was just trying to make peace.”

Caroline native Joseph James Jr. said he has known Harris all of his life and that this incident was out character for him.

“In the 52 years that I’ve known him, he has never had a violent reaction,” he said. “He’s a good guy, but drugs will make you do stuff you wouldn’t normally do.”

Jackson, who said during the trial that he shot Harris’ car window out, was charged five days later with possession of a firearm by a felon.

He is scheduled to appear in court on that charge on May 30.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419