Dallas, Texas, native Brian Cloninger tearfully pleaded for mercy on Friday, but the horrific nature of his crime made it all but impossible. No leniency was forthcoming for the 48-year-old who, in 2013, shot an eight-year-old boy directly in the face.
Cloninger claimed in court that he did not remember wounding Donald Maiden, Jr., now nine, outside the boy’s Lake Highlands apartment complex.
“I just hope that someday the family and Donald can forgive me,” Brian reportedly said in court.
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Brian Cloninger waived his right to trial by jury, opting for a bench trial. The defense had claimed Brian did not intend to harm Donald on the day of the incident. Cloninger admitted that he went to the apartment complex where the boy lived to seek out a transsexual prostitute for a massage. He blamed his behavior and lack of recollection on the combination of alcohol and prescription drugs in his system. Dallas psychiatrist John Tallmadge testified that it was possible for the combination of drugs and alcohol to affect Brian’s memory.
An eyewitness testified that Cloninger said that he shot the child “just ’cause.”
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Because of the extensive physical and psychological trauma caused to Donald Maiden, Jr., prosecutors sought the maximum possible punishment for the shooting. That would have been a life sentence with a minimum of 50 years before possible parole.
The case was heard by Judge Gary Stephens, who convicted Brian for the shooting on June 10. On the day of his sentencing, Brian Cloninger asked the judge to allow him to continue his work as a plumber so that he could pay restitution to the victim in lieu of jail time.
“I just hope that someday the family of Donald can forgive me, and I just beg for mercy and the opportunity to get help and possibly become a productive member of society.”
Stephens instead sentenced Cloninger to 45-years in prison, just five years shy of the punishment requested by prosecutors. The judge gave no comment on the sentencing.
Family members of the young victim admitted after the sentence was handed down that they could not forgive the shooter for the damage inflicted on Maiden. The boy is said to live in constant fear of Cloninger and that the man would return to cause him additional harm.
With Brian Cloninger in prison, relatives of Donald Maiden, Jr. hope that they can convince him that he doesn’t have to be afraid anymore.
[Image Credit: WFAA News]