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DECATUR — A judge who sentenced a Decatur man to 37 years in prison after he was convicted of shooting another man in the chest, ruled the sentence was reasonable and fair Thursday.

Macon County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Griffith had been asked by Chief Public Defender David Ellison to reconsider the sentence he imposed Oct. 11 on Jerry D. Harris, 36.

A jury convicted Harris on Aug. 22 of attempted first-degree murder after he shot 46-year-old Sedrick Cunningham during a confrontation the two men had in the 1000 block of West Cerro Gordo Street on July 29, 2017. Cunningham, who had a long-standing enmity with Harris, had punched the defendant in the head before being shot.

Ellison told Griffith that given the circumstances of the case the 37-year sentence — 12 years for attempted murder with 25 years added on due to the use of a firearm inflicting great bodily harm -- was unfair. Legal rules mandate the 25-year firearm add-on sentence, but Ellison said imposing the six-year minimum sentence for the attempted murder, meaning a total sentence of 31 years, “would be more appropriate.”

First Assistant State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke argued the sentence was just and should stand. “Your honor, the victim in this case nearly lost his life,” she said. “I think it is a fair sentence, considering both sides.”

Griffith agreed. “The motion to reconsider the sentence is denied,” he said.

“Mr. Harris shot somebody at point-blank range, and it is very fortunate someone did not end up dead in this particular case," Griffith said. "Mr. Harris also has significant prior criminal history, and I believe, based on the facts of Mr. Harris’ prior record, six years over the minimum for 37 years is reasonable.”

Harris, who is in prison and was not present for the hearing, is expected to appeal.

2018 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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


Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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