By Jean Cole
An Ardmore uncle convicted of fatally shooting his nephew following a daylong gathering in 2009 has been sentenced to serve 50 years in prison.
Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof Jr. disregarded pleas for leniency for 39-year-old Keith George in the murder of his nephew, 26-year-old Rusty George.
Woodroof said George's actions that night of March 16, 2009 were "intentional, aggressive and heinous."
During his trial in September, Keith admitted on the stand that he shot Rusty twice in the right thigh and once in the chest following a barbecue at the home of mutual friends James and Sarah Evans of Ardmore. However, Keith told jurors he shot Rusty in self-defense after Rusty became angry and was hitting him and threatening him with a large stick.
A jury convicted George of murder Sept. 14.
District Attorney Brian Jones said during Tuesday's sentencing hearing that on the night of the shooting, George had retreived a stick from the bed of his truck and pursued Rusty. Then he retrieved a gun from the cab of his truck and and pursued Rusty, who was retreating backwards, even crossing a road, before being shot.
George's attorney, Garry Clem of Athens, had asked the court to give George the minimum of 15 years, arguing that a person who kills in the heat of anger is not likely to kill again.
Woodroof told Clem the minimum sentence in this case is 20 years. He then sentenced George to 50 years with credit for time served, which is about one year, and ordered him to pay $3,384 in restitution to the vicitm's mother, Zandra George, plus court costs.
Zandra said after the hearing, "I did not want him to die in prison, I just want him to not be able to this to anyone else. I have been without my baby for Christmas for three years now, going on four."
Following sentencing, George was taken into custody and returned to the Limestone County Jail. He will be sent to state prison to begin his sentence once a bed is available.
Check here later for more details.