published Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Shooting victim surprised at sentence

Three bullets tore into Cecil Stodghill's body nearly a year ago, and on Tuesday he saw the man who shot him plead guilty in court.

But the five-year sentence of Leon "Big Poppa" Holmes on a plea to a lesser charge did little to comfort Stodghill.

"I still have a bullet in me," he said following the hearing. "Do you think that's fair?"

Holmes, 47, pleaded guilty Tuesday before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern on a charge of aggravated assault. Following his Feb. 27, 2010, arrest, he was indicted on attempted first-degree murder and other related charges.

While awaiting trial, Holmes was arrested Jan. 31 and charged with threatening a witness.

In exchange for the guilty plea and waiving his right to a jury trial, Holmes received a five-year sentence on the aggravated assault charge and all other charges were dropped.

Under the Tennessee Department of Correction offender categorization system, Holmes could serve 30 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole, which equals 11/2 years.

Prosecutor Bill Hall said in court that the shooting arose from an altercation between Holmes and Stodghill, and that witnesses had conflicting accounts of what exactly happened.

The shooting happened, he said, during Holmes' and Stodghill's struggle over the gun. At the time of the struggle, Holmes admitted to being under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.

Following the hearing, Arvin Reingold, attorney for Holmes, said that Hall had taken all factors into account and the state acted responsibly in his client's case.

But Stodghill saw the outcome differently.

The 59-year-old man said he was working as a temporary bartender for Holmes' birthday party next door to the LG Lounge on the night of Feb. 27, 2010.

When he completed his shift, Holmes told him he couldn't pay him until the first of the month. Stodghill had a tip jar with about $80 in it that he took with him although Holmes had said earlier he wanted money out of the tip jar.

Stodghill went next door to the LG Lounge at 830 Dodson Ave. to work the rest of the evening as a bartender.

Shortly after he arrived, Holmes walked in, drenched in sweat and began shooting Stodghill, who said he was struck three times -- in his torso, near the lower left rib cage and in the upper right side of his chest.

Stodghill said the chance that Holmes might be released from prison in less than two years means he will stay alert when the time comes, he said.

"I know what he's capable of," he said.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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BOOBOO99 said...

This is why our Justice system dont work..This Thug who shot this guy 3 times..I think the guy was trying to kill him and only gets 5 years, and could serve 18 months of that sentence, Then this POPPA THUG will get out to get his revenge and maybe kill this guy next time..This is what ya call Our finest Chattanooga Justice System at work..I think the Judge should be held liable if this guy gets out and kills the man... This thug of a judge needs to be ousted from his job..The Chattanooga Justice let the victim down by saying attempted murder is only a slap on the wrist.I bet if this guy shot the Judge 3 times he would of got life....

February 23, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.
ceeweed said...

Too bad Poppa wouldn't holding a dime bag when this attempted murder went down, he would have surely copped more than five years respite at the big house.

February 23, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.
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