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Man, 90, gets time served in shooting

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Charles Finney

A 90-year-old Spotsylvania County man who shot his wife of 65 years during a domestic dispute last year has been sentenced to three years in prison with all time suspended.

Charles Finney was convicted in Spotsylvania Circuit Court on Tuesday of unlawful wounding.

As part of a plea agreement, the charge was reduced from malicious wounding and a firearms charge was dropped.

The charge stems from a May 14, 2013, incident during which police responded to a 911 call for a domestic-related shooting.

Deputies went to the 8000 block of Cloverhill Court in Piedmont Square subdivision off Courthouse Road. There, they found 89-year-old Pauline Finney with superficial gunshot wounds to the neck and hand. She was able to leave the home and get help at a neighbor’s house.

According to a stipulation of facts listed in the agreement, the couple had been arguing before the shooting over Finney not taking his wife to a hair appointment.

Finney claims his wife became verbally abusive to him and began slapping him in the head.

He said that was normal behavior for her to slap him around and he usually just walked away, but that day he was tired of it and went upstairs and grabbed his two-shot derringer, according to the agreement.

When she saw the gun, she yelled at him not to shoot her and they wrestled over it until the gun discharged, the agreement said. He shot the gun again intentionally into the floor, but did not realize his wife had been hit by the first shot.

Pauline Finney, who is legally deaf, communicated that the gun did go off during a struggle over the gun.

“What’s the best thing to do when someone brings a gun to a slap fight?” asked Prosecutor Matthew Lowery.

The plea agreement did not spell out a sentence, which was to be decided by Judge J. Howe Brown.

Defense attorney Mark Gardner introduced witnesses that testified that this was out of character for Finney. He also pointed out that Finney spent three weeks in jail, and as a 90-year-old man, that was a difficult thing for him.

In addition to the three-year suspended sentence, Finney was ordered to have no contact with his wife. The two separated after the shooting.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419