Charleston man gets maximum sentence for shooting death
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man was sent to prison for 15 years for shooting another man to death in what a judge called an epidemic of guns, drugs and violence.
Richard Hilliard, 24, pleaded guilty last month, telling Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom that he shot David Booker, 26, in a vehicle at Milton and Richards streets on Oct. 11. He said Booker first drew a gun on another passenger and he reacted by shooting him.
Booker eluded police for several weeks after the shooting. He waived indictment and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. His defense attorney Wednesday asked the judge not to imprison him but give him an opportunity for rehabilitation in a different setting.
The judge refused, saying he couldn't condone the murder.
"No doubt, mistakes were made by you in this matter," Bloom said. "You exercised extremely poor judgment, and it resulted in the death of an individual. There are no innocents in this type of transaction.
"We have an epidemic of violent crime at the moment, and it cannot be tolerated," the judge said. "Nothing less than a 15-year sentence is appropriate."
Another man in that vehicle, Andrew Williamson, or "A3," was shot recently in what a prosecutor said was retaliation for Booker's death. Williamson has a history of criminal activity, as does Hilliard and as did Booker.
After he was released from the hospital, Williamson was taken to South Central Regional Jail and is a suspect in the Booker case. Hilliard had told the judge earlier that Williamson helped him clean up evidence of the crime.
Hilliard apologized in court for killing Booker.
"I'm sorry for my actions," he said. "And I take responsibility for them. It was me being provoked that caused my actions. It wasn't deliberate or planned."
His attorney, Shawn Bayliss, called Hilliard "bright, engaging and personable" but said he found himself "with the wrong persons doing the wrong things."
He asked that Hilliard, father of a 3-year-old child, be given probation, or be sent to a facility for youthful offenders where he could get his GED and help with drug addiction.
"We don't ask anyone to take that death lightly," Bayliss said of Booker's murder. "But we see an opportunity to redirect his life."
Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach, however, said Booker's shooting was one in a long string of recent gun crimes and deaths related to drugs and weapons downtown.
"Over 70 shots were fired at Andre Williams in retaliation in this case, and an innocent bystander was shot on the West Side," Giggenbach said. "And Mr. Booker was in a dangerous occupation."
He asked for a 15-year penitentiary sentence for Hilliard, and the judge agreed.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4832.