NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A North Charleston man who claimed he shot at his neighbor in self defense was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
On Friday, a Charleston County jury found Rhajon Sanders guilty of attempted murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
Officials with the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's Office says the shooting happened on Dec. 26, 2014 on Kent Avenue in North Charleston.
According to prosecutors, Sanders was on his front porch carrying a loaded handgun, and across the street, the victim was outside in his aunt's yard smoking a cigarette listening to music on his headphones.
"Sanders claimed he tried to get the victim's attention, but the victim did not hear Sanders," prosecutors said."Sanders then walked from his front porch and opened fire. He shot at least 4 times all while children were playing in the yard."
Authorities say Sanders claimed the victim reached towards his waistband, and assumed he had a gun so he shot across the street.
According to investigators, the victim was unarmed and testified he heard shots and then saw a fireball coming towards him.
The victim suffered a single gunshot wound to his left leg. During surgery, the bullet was removed and a permanent metal rod was placed in the victim's leg.
"Upon officers' arrival, Sanders waived his Miranda rights and confessed to shooting the victim," prosecutors said."A search warrant was executed on Sanders' house, and the Taurus gun was recovered in his bedroom, along with an extended magazine cartridge."
A report states Sanders testified at trial and claimed self-defense though he acknowledged there were no prior verbal or physical altercations between him and the victim, nor were there any threats of any kind made by the victim.
"The Defendant attempted to justify his actions by presenting evidence that he lived in an unsafe neighborhood," prosecutors said.
Assistant Solicitor Savas explained to the jury that self-defense is reserved for cases showing there was sufficient legal justification, however, in this case there were no such reasons.
"The fact that Sanders shot at the victim without any provocation is a terrifying notion and a blatant disregard for the safety and lives of others," the solicitor's office said.
Assistant Solicitor Savas stated, "This guilty verdict is a strong message to the community that the continued senseless acts of violence will not be tolerated."