By Joe Gorman
Before he was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison for wounding a child doing homework, court officials allowed Devante Scott to hold his 6-month-old daughter.
But only briefly. Scott was taken into a jury room in the Mahoning County Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Shirley J. Christian, where he was allowed to hold the child for one minute. Then he returned and received his sentence in that case plus two others involving weapons.
Scott faced the parents of Kathryn Carter and apologized for wounding the girl, then 9, on April 2, 2014, as he fired a shot into her East Judson Avenue home while she was at a table doing homework.
“Your daughter was never intended to be hurt, and it was truly an accident from the bottom of my heart,” Scott said.
Scott pleaded guilty Monday during jury selection to charges of improper discharge of a firearm at or into a habitation and felonious assault.
He also entered guilty pleas in two other charges: two counts of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property, for a traffic stop in Struthers in September 2014 where police found guns in his car; and a count of improper handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and possession of drugs when Youngstown police found a handgun on him and oxycodone on him in March of this year.
Scott was not indicted in the shooting of Kathryn until March of this year, when he was arrested by city police after an informant came forward. Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa said Tuesday that the informant would have testified that he and Scott were shooting guns in the neighborhood and fired into Turner’s house, believing it was vacant.
Cantalamessa was recommending a sentence of seven years for the shooting that wounded Kathryn, followed by one-year sentences on the other two cases. Lou DeFabio, Scott’s lawyer, asked for a sentence of five years. DeFabio said it was never his client’s intention to hurt anyone, and Scott also decided to plead guilty because he did not want Kathryn or her family to go through the ordeal of a trial.
“He did not want to put the victim through a trial,” DeFabio said.
Kathryn’s parents were present at the sentencing but not Kathryn herself. The parents chose not to address the court.
Judge Christian said whether or not Scott meant to hurt anyone, the fact is that he did.
“It is obvious to me and to anybody else that but for the grace of God, nobody was killed that night,” Judge Christian said.
Judge Christian said the fact Scott took responsibility and spared Kathryn from going through a trial influenced her decision on the sentence.
The one-year sentences for the other two cases will run concurrent to the sentence in the Kathryn Carter case.