Proctorville man gets 12 years for shooting

Published 12:32 am Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Proctorville man will spend 12 years in prison for shooting two neighbors. But he will take with him the forgiveness offered in court Wednesday by one of his two victims.

Clifton West, 21, of 1004 Wallace Lane, pleaded guilty in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to one count of burglary with a firearm specification and two counts of felonious assault stemming from an incident Nov. 23 during which he burst into a neighbor’s home and shot two men there.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of vandalism. When he was arrested and put in a sheriff’s office cruiser, he kicked the window out.

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Judge Charles Cooper sentenced him to a total of nine years for the four criminal counts and an additional three years for the use of the gun. The three-year sentence on the gun specification is mandated by state law.

Both of West’s victims attended Wednesday’s court hearing and watched as West pleaded guilty.

­Both spoke briefly before Cooper handed down West’s sentence.

“Twelve years sounds fine to me,” Scott Aldridge told Cooper.

His father, Otis Aldridge, who leaned on a cane as he spoke, was reflective about West and what happened.

“There’s a lot of potential in that young man, a lot of potential,” he said of West. “He just did a bad thing and I’m a forgiving person. The man ‘fessed up to everyone. My heart goes out to him and his mother and his relatives. Thank you, your honor.”

Mike Gleichauf, West’s attorney, told Cooper, “There are no winners here. This is a situation where a 20-year-old man was drinking large quantities of whiskey, maybe using pills, there was an altercation and a tragic accident happened. Mr. West admits what he has done. This is just a really sad situation where a young man under the influence of alcohol made a horrible decision.”

West apologized to the Aldridge family and to his own, who sat behind him in the courtroom gallery.

“I made a very bad decision with alcohol and everything. All I can say is, I’m sorry,” West said.

Cooper told West, “I can’t think of a situation where whiskey, pills and a shotgun are merged together with anything profitable coming out of it.”

Also Wednesday, James A. Chaffins, 36, of 784 County Road 411, Proctorville, pleaded guilty to charges of felonious assault, theft and criminal trespass.

Judge D. Scott Bowling sentenced Chaffins to four years in prison.

With good behavior, Chaffins may be eligible for judicial release after serving six months if he is admitted to a rehabilitation program at the STAR Community Justice Center.

“I’m sorry,” Chaffins told Bowling.

Authorities said Chaffins was caught shoplifting at the Walmart Supercenter in Burlington.

When he was detained by store security, he pulled a knife. Chaffins had been told previously to stay away from Walmart stores because of past shoplifting offenses.