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Shot lands man in prison

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A man who fired a handgun outside Greenwood Park Mall during what police called a drug deal gone awry last year was sentenced to six months in prison and six months on work release.

John A. Sanders, 28, Greenwood, pleaded guilty to felony charges of criminal recklessness and possession of marijuana and was sentenced this month.

Johnson Circuit Judge Mark Loyd also sentenced Sanders to two years on probation.

Sanders fired a gun inside a parked car Feb. 23, according to a police report. The incident occurred in the parking lot of the mall when the lot was full and thousands of people were shopping inside.

Multiple people called police after hearing the gunshot. The car was parked in a lot on the east side of the mall near Dick’s Sporting Goods. Sanders went to the area with two other men to purchase a large amount of marijuana, according to a police report. During the deal, police said Sanders pulled out a handgun and fired it. No one was injured.

Other charges of battery with a deadly weapon, pointing a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license were dismissed as part of the plea agreement Sanders made with prosecutors. The sentence was a set term agreed to by both Sanders and the prosecutor, Sanders’ attorney Christopher Eskew said.

Sanders accepted the plea agreement because there was little doubt that he was found with more than 30 grams of marijuana when arrested but also to avoid the risk of potentially being found guilty of other charges, including a felony battery charge, Eskew said.

“It eliminated a risk for John to take that plea. We’re happy with the resolution. We appreciate the state working with us, and they were in a pretty tough spot with some of the witnesses,” Eskew said.

Some witnesses had moved out of state, and the only people who saw Sanders fire the gun were in the car during the drug deal, deputy prosecutor Daylon Welliver said.

The plea allowed the county to get a felony conviction and prison time for Sanders, 2946 Heirloom Lane, who had misdemeanor convictions for past offenses, Welliver said.

“That sends a message to the public that if you come down here and engage in conduct like that, you’re going to prison,” Welliver said.

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