DECATUR — After an earlier mistrial, Gavarius T. Carney was convicted Thursday by a Macon County jury of shooting another man and now faces the prospect of up to 60 years behind bars.
The 25-year-old Decatur man was found guilty after a three-day trial of being an armed habitual criminal and aggravated battery with a firearm, both Class X felonies.
Prosecutors said Carney unleashed a spray of bullets against a rival he wanted to scare away from a love interest during an incident May 28 in the 3000 block North Portage Place. Prosecutors said Carney fired seven or eight shots, after methodically clearing a bullet jam, before shooting the male victim in the left thigh. He suffered a serious wound but recovered to testify against Carney.
Before the trial, Carney had been offered a deal that would have seen him get 15 years in prison if he pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm. Carney rejected the offer and was warned by Judge Jeffrey Geisler that both Class X felonies carried maximum 30-year prison sentences. The judge said he had the discretion to order the sentences to be served consecutively, adding up to 60 years behind bars.
The jury, which took four hours to reach its verdict, was told Carney qualified for the armed habitual criminal charge because he had previous convictions for residential burglary and burglary.
His first trial was abandoned Dec. 4 before an earlier jury got to hear a word, after defense attorney Thomas Wheeler told prosecutors he had an alibi witness.
That turned out to be Carney’s current girlfriend who said she had picked him up from the restaurant where he worked the night of the shooting and he had been with her. She had apparently not come forward previously.
Wheeler also said police hadn’t investigated the shooting properly and their case was full of holes. He said even the victim had failed, at first, to identify Carney as the shooter.
But Macon County Assistant State’s Attorney David Perry argued any initial reluctance on the victim’s part to name Carney might have been motivated by fear of being shot again.
The prosecutor told the jury he praised the victim for having the courage to face his assailant in court: “You might imagine how difficult it is to face down the person who shot you, who tried repeatedly to shoot you,” Perry added.
Carney is due to be sentenced March 5.