Riverhead man pleads to lesser charge for shooting man in the face

A Riverhead man who was arrested after shooting another man in the face in late 2016 pleaded guilty to a lesser charge just as jury selection got underway earlier this week.

Shawn James, 30, was facing up to seven years in prison on a second-degree assault charge, a class D felony, that he was indicted on following the Dec. 19, 2016, incident in a parking lot near Maple and East Avenues in Riverhead.

After almost a full day of jury selection Monday, Mr. James and the prosecution reached a deal Tuesday that guaranteed him less prison time had he been convicted at trial. Before State Supreme Court Judge Richard Ambro, he pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault, according to Dan Barker, his court-appointed attorney.

“He took the plea with the promise of two to four years in jail,” Mr. Barker said, adding that the attempted second-degree assault is considered a non-violent felony.

“The minimum he could have gotten if he was convicted on the charges that he went to trial for was five in jail, with five years post supervision, and the maximum he could have gotten was seven years in jail, with five years of post release supervision,” Mr. Barker explained.

Riverhead police charged Mr. James with first-degree assault several days after the incident, but a grand jury indicted him on second-degree assault, a lesser charge, last year.

At the time of his arrest, police said, Mr. James also was wanted on an arrest warrant for menacing and also was wanted on a parole violation.

The victim, also from Riverhead, was picked Mr. James out of a photo lineup from his hospital bed, police said in court. The two reportedly knew each other.

Riverhead Lt. Rick Boden said the victim did not suffer life-threatening injuries at the time of the crime and was able to leave the scene on his own power. Because the injuries were not life-threatening, the charge did not rise to the level of attempted murder, Lt. Boden said.

Judge Ambro is expected to sentence Mr. James in mid-March.

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