Teen pleads guilty to shooting woman at North Charleston ATM
Paris Austin left home at 16 but then, forced to pay his own way, he shot a young mother three times at an ATM in a robbery attempt.
The woman survived, and Austin’s friends turned on him, according to defense attorney Andrew Grimes. Now 17, Austin pleaded guilty Monday to five charges and faces 25 years in prison without parole. “He was trying to make money for clothes and, instead of getting a job, he took a shortcut,” Grimes said.
Austin shot 25-year-old Sade Williams, a mother of two, while she stopped at a drive-through S.C. Federal Credit Union ATM on McMillan Avenue in North Charleston on Feb. 12, 2011. Williams had clocked out of work at a distribution center for veterans’ pharmaceuticals at 1 a.m. and then stopped at the ATM on her way home to her small children.
Williams told police that two men with their faces covered and wearing all black approached her car, and that one of the men fired a silver revolver at her three times. She managed to drive down Rivers Avenue to a parking lot, where someone else called police.
Williams couldn’t speak with investigators for days as she recovered at Medical University Hospital.
Chief Deputy Solicitor Bruce DuRant, the prosecutor in the case, said Austin faced the brunt of the blame — and 30 years in prison in the case.
“There was no question in my mind that he was the shooter in this, and there was no question in my mind that he didn’t have to be,” DuRant said. “It was a situation where he could have walked away. … He had a choice to walk away or pull the trigger.”
Grimes said his client and friends got high on marijuana and talked about robberies before the crime. An unnamed juvenile brought the gun, Grimes said, and Austin fired it.
Austin pleaded guilty to five charges: attempted murder, attempted armed robbery, criminal conspiracy, possession of a firearm by a minor and possession of a firearm during a violent crime. He received a 25-year sentence on the attempted murder charge, a 20-year sentence on the attempted armed robbery charge and five years each on the remaining charges against him.
Though Austin will serve his time concurrently, neither attempted murder nor attempted armed robbery offers the opportunity for parole. That means he must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
“In this case, he had three codefendants willing to testify against him and three other witnesses who sort of heard him confess,” Grimes said.
The cases against two other teenagers and a juvenile remain open, he added.
“I guess the question I have in this case is the juvenile is probably second-most culpable,” Grimes said. “He’s looking at six years. Why does he get six years, and my client gets 25?”