HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The man who opened fire and seriously wounded a Madison County Sheriff's deputy in November 2011 finally had his day in court here.
Monday, Joseph Shriver entered a guilty plea to a charge of attempted murder.
The incident on Moores Mill Road happened in the blink of an eye. Deputy Brent Beavers pulled over a speeding car, not knowing that Shriver, an Iraq war veteran, had fired on a convenience store a few minutes earlier.
"And instantly Shriver basically rolled onto his knee like in a military training to roll down to the one-knee stance and just opened fire with 7.62 rounds from an assault rifle with the full drum of ammunition on it," said Shauna Barnett, Madison County Assistant District Attorney.
Beavers wasn't even out of the car. Bullets stitched a line up the hood. One hit the steering wheel and fragmented.
"But the bulk of the fragment actually went into his face and throat, so that's what was the critical injury," said Barnett.
Shriver was arrested the next morning after another shootout in Tennessee. He pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder in the shooting of Beavers and was given a 40-year sentence. He also apologized to Beavers, saying he hoped that one day he could forgive him.
"I do forgive him," said Beavers. "It's not my place to take it any further than that."
Beavers said he is uncertain how to feel after the plea.
"Putting somebody in jail for that long doesn't make me feel any better," said Beavers. "It's an unfortunate circumstance for all families involved. Everyone involved."
Shriver's attorney, Bruce Gardner, said the Army veteran has mental health problems, was injured by an IED in Iraq and he "snapped" the night he shot Beavers.
"I also delivered a private handwritten letter from Joe to the deputy," said Gardner. "And he did that knowing we were getting 40 years today."
Beavers said he's let the incident "steal his joy" for 1,883 days.
Attorney Gardner said Shriver saw friends die in Iraq. Gardner said it's no excuse, but Shriver reacted to the confrontation that night like he was under threat.