By Joe Gorman
Just before he was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday, a man who pleaded guilty to wounding a Youngstown State University student on the fringes of campus last February said he also knows what it’s like to be shot.
Sylean Wilson, 20, of Pittsburgh told Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that because he had been shot before, it drove his actions to return gunfire Feb. 17, 2013 — which instead injured Brittany Johnson of Bedford Heights.
“I didn’t want to get shot again. I didn’t want to die. So I shot [back],” Wilson said.
Wilson pleaded guilty in March to four counts of felonious assault and a firearm specification. Prosecutors recommended that he serve three yeas for the firearm specifications and three years for the felonious assault charges, all of those sentences concurrent to one another, but consecutive to the firearm specification.
He was given credit for more than 400 days in jail while his case worked its way through the court system.
Johnson told the court she thought the six years was too lenient. She said when she was wounded it changed her life dramatically and she had to drop out of school and move from her apartment, and she could not work.
“It’s like I was the person who committed the crime,” Johnson said.
She said she still is struggling.
“I don’t think I’m getting what I deserve out of it at all,” Johnson said. Police said Wilson stood on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and fired several shots at a vehicle Johnson was in. She was struck in the torso.
In court, Wilson’s attorney, Walter Madison, told Judge Durkin that Wilson had been out at a club with friends from Pittsburgh when another group of men began feuding with them, They then followed Wilson back to Pennsylvania Avenue and fired several shots at him.
Wilson, who had been wounded in a shooting at a bowling alley in 2007, returned fire, and hit Johnson, Madison said.
Madison said if the case had gone to trial, he would have been able to prove by some of the bullets recovered from other parts of the crime scene that there was no way Wilson could have fired them. But he did say his client accepted responsibility for wounding Johnson.
Madison asked Judge Durkin to stick to the recommended sentence, saying that his client comes from a good family who has supported him throughout the case, has a good employment history and graduated from a prestigious high school in Pittsburgh and was attending college. He said these are all factors that point toward someone not being a high risk to commit further crimes.
“There is a wealth of positivity about this young man,” Madison said.
Wilson apologized to Johnson for wounding her and to his family as well. He asked Johnson for forgiveness also.
Another Pittsburgh man, Rashaud Lewis, 20, was sentenced to two years of probation in March for his role in the shooting. He is accused of slamming a door in a police officer’s face when they arrived to investigate the shooting. He pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing justice.