Paralyzed man guilty in drive-by shootingWallace sentencing set for next month

Published 11:30 am Thursday, November 29, 2012

For the first time during his three-day trial, Eric Wallace stopped smiling Wednesday as jurors returned guilty verdicts on all three counts against him related to a 2011 drive-by shooting.

The jury of eight men and four women took just less than two hours to convict Wallace, 31, 7160 Warriors Trail, of drive-by shooting, shooting into a motor vehicle and shooting into an occupied dwelling. Circuit Judge M. James Chaney set sentencing for Dec. 14.

Wallace, who was paralyzed following a drive-by shooting in 2006, faces up to 45 years in prison. The possibility of spending most of the rest of his life behind bars left a blank expression on the face of the man who greeted each defense witness with a wave and toothy grin and who, between court sessions, had talked with deputies about his love of basketball.

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Prosecutors said the case against Wallace was irrefutable because forensic tests showed bullet casings found near where a home and Chevrolet Astro van were riddled with bullets Aug. 19, 2011, at 1708 Jackson St. came from Wallace’s .40-caliber Smith and Wesson pistol.

No one was injured in the shooting.

Assistant District Attorney Lane Campbell argued that scientific facts outweighed defense witnesses who placed Wallace at LD’s on Mulberry Street shortly before the shooting and testimony from Wallace and his passenger that the two went to Kings after leaving the lounge.

“Science doesn’t get in trouble. Science hasn’t been a lifelong friend or go to church with your mother. Science doesn’t care,” Campbell said.

Defense Attorney James “Buck” Penley Jr. contended the markings on the shell casings were not enough to convict Wallace.

“There is no evidence of any type other than some shell casings that say my client may have been on Jackson Street,” Penley said. “Nobody puts Mr. Wallace at that scene.”

Wallace maintained his innocence as he testified on his own behalf and said he always kept a gun nearby for protection.

“I’ve been shot before, and it’s kind of hard when you can’t defend yourself,” Wallace said.

An expert testified Tuesday that Wallace had gunshot residue on the back of his left hand after the shooting. Wallace said he did not know how the residue got there but that he often fired his gun at home.

“There’s very few people who stay out where I stay, so it’s like a pastime,” Wallace said. “I just go outside and fire off a few rounds.”

Wallace has been held without bail in the Warren County Jail since his arrest May 30 in a drive-by shooting at LD’s, and prosecutors plan to take that case to trial in February, District Attorney Ricky Smith said. Wallace also faces charges related to a drive-by shooting on April 11, 2011, in which he is accused of shooting at two women walking near Eastover Apartments on Baldwin Ferry Road. No date has been set for that trial.