LOCKPORT – A drive-by shooter whose aim was faulty was sentenced Monday to 10 years in state prison for shooting a 2-year-old girl.
Police said Willie R. Scott Jr., 33, of LaSalle Avenue, Niagara Falls, was trying to shoot a man in a parked car Nov. 27 outside the Hometown Market on Pierce Avenue in the Falls.
Instead, the round struck the girl in the face. She was in the car with the intended target, Timothy Ellison.
The bullet, which went through the girl’s nose, remains lodged in her face, Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said. The girl has undergone three surgeries and is expected to have more operations in the future.
“She still has a beautiful smile, but she can’t make a whole smile because she still has the bullet in her face,” the girl’s mother, Sharonda Platt, told Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. “She has to constantly go in for X-rays to make sure the bullet that was in her (upper) jaw hasn’t moved.”
Platt said of the sentence: “I don’t feel as though the 10 years is enough time. I don’t want any apologies. Nothing will change the way I feel.”
Scott, who could have faced a life sentence as a persistent felon had he been convicted at trial, accepted a plea offer Sept. 9 to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree assault.
In the deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek the life sentence, and Murphy agreed to sentence Scott to no more than 10 years. The maximum for the crime to which Scott admitted was 15 years.
Had he been convicted at trial, Murphy could have sentenced Scott to as long as 25 years in prison, unless the judge opted to impose persistent felon status under New York’s “three strikes” law. Then, Murphy could have been given Scott a life sentence.
Scott’s criminal resume includes a 2004 conviction for fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and a 2008 conviction for third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Both crimes are felonies.
Monday, when asked to speak, defense attorney E. Earl Key told Murphy, “Judge, we have nothing to say.” Scott also declined to speak.
Murphy said, “This is a senseless crime. In my mind, there’s never been any satisfactory explanation for why this happened.”
Hoffmann said she would only be speculating if she offered a possible motive. Key left the courthouse without comment.
Platt said, “There’s no hard feelings, because I turned the whole thing over to God. I don’t understand his logic.”