An Augusta man about to stand trial on a slew of charges Monday opted to plead guilty rather than risk a jury verdict.
Donte D. Flono, 29, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and theft by receiving stolen property in a plea agreement that limited any prison time to four years.
Flono was charged in an April 29 incident in which two men told investigators that a man with a shirt covering his face tried to rob them and then fired shots, wounding one.
Neither man was able to identify Flono as the assailant, and the man who was shot, Stephen Mann, cannot be found, said Assistant District Attorney Amanda Pennington.
Defense attorney Kimberly Wilder told the judge that she believed Flono had a valid defense but was afraid a jury would judge him harshly because of his facial tattoos. What happened that day, according to Wilder, was that Ronnie Hill was selling a gun to Mann when an argument broke out. Flono only got involved to break up the fight, but Hill panicked and fired his weapon, wounding Mann, she said.
Flono had no felony record. He had a good work history and was saving his money to try to obtain custody of his three children, Wilder said.
Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. sentenced Flono to four years in prison followed by one year on probation. He granted First Offender status to Flono.
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