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He's accused of firing a gun outside the Decatur Masonic Temple. On Thursday, he was sentenced.
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He's accused of firing a gun outside the Decatur Masonic Temple. On Thursday, he was sentenced.

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Matthew L. Rice

Matthew L. Rice

DECATUR — Matthew L. Rice was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to opening fire while a fight was going on in a crowded downtown Decatur parking lot.

Rice, 24, appeared before Macon County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Griffith pleading guilty to one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. It was part of a plea deal negotiated by his defense attorney, Steve Jones, which saw additional charges of being felon in possession of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm dismissed.

A sworn affidavit from Decatur police about the case said police saw Rice firing into the air during a melee that broke out in the early morning hours after an event hosted at the Decatur Masonic Temple, 224 W. William St.

Writing in the affidavit, police Officer Brent Morey had described Rice’s decision to open fire as reckless and dangerous. “Rice’s actions jeopardized the safety of the people in the parking lot,” he added.

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Morey said Rice had then tried to flee the lot in his vehicle but was intercepted by police who boxed his car in. He had refused to get out, Morey said, and was arrested after being man-handled from the vehicle.

A stolen .45 caliber handgun had been seized from Rice’s car and 10 spent shell casings recovered from the parking lot.

Griffith told Rice he could have faced up to 7 years in prison without the plea agreement and asked him if he understood its terms. “Yes, sir,” Rice replied. He will get credit for some 95 days already spent in custody at the Macon County Jail and the prison sentence is also eligible for day for day credit.


Mug shots from the Herald & Review 

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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