A 22-year-old man insisted on Tuesday that he never meant to hurt anyone when he fired a paintball gun from a moving car on a South Side street.It was purely an accident that the pellet struck a 72-year-old man in the right eye as he rode a bicycle in the area of East Whittier Street and South Champion Avenue on May 29, 2015, Thomas A. Woodruff told a Franklin County judge.
The victim, Morris McCarty, still has no vision in the eye, Assistant Prosecutor Shanda Behrens said. She asked for “significant prison time” for Woodruff, who pleaded guilty in January to one count of felonious assault.
While awaiting sentencing he has been pictured holding guns and smoking marijuana on Instagram, she said.Woodruff, of Linwood Avenue on the Near East Side, said he was “extremely sorry and remorseful. … I never once meant to cause physical harm to anyone with that paintball gun.”Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook was unimpressed with Woodruff’s expression of remorse, saying he heard “no direct apology to the victim,” who didn’t attend the hearing.
“You may have been sorry that it happened.”Holbrook sentenced Woodruff to four years in prison, but said he will be eligible to apply for early release after six months if he behaves.Woodruff said he and a group of friends were wearing protective gear and participating in a citywide “paintball war” that had been promoted through social media and had hundreds of other participants.The activity “was innocent enough,” defense attorney Mark Hunt said. “This man was never an intended target.”Holbrook said Woodruff had a responsibility to know where his shots were going.
“This man clearly wasn’t playing the game, so he shouldn’t have been victimized,” the judge said.