Man sentenced in shooting incident


BUCKHANNON — A man who entered a guilty plea Wednesday — without admitting guilt — will serve one to five years in prison for unlawful wounding, a felony.

Howard Joseph Landers II, 28, represented by James Hawkins Jr., had been indicted in January 2019 for malicious wounding, a felony.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Landers entered the guilty plea to a lesser included offense of unlawful wounding, a felony.

Prosecuting attorney David Godwin told the court that on April 19, 2018 the Buckhannon Police Department was called to the residence at 15 Cleveland Ave. in Upshur County for a shooting.

The victim was William H. McCauley, who Landers said in court Wednesday was his cousin.

Landers had came to the house along with several others and a discussion occurred about a vehicle that had been stopped in a traffic stop.

A comment that McCauley said made Landers angry, according to Godwin.

“When he made him angry, Mr. Landers took position of a silver firearm, pointed it at the head of Mr. McCauley and threatened him,” Godwin said.

Godwin said there were three witnesses that could testify about the gun being held to McCauley’s head and that McCauley heard the gun click.

Soon after, Landers and the others were leaving and Landers turned and pointed the .22 caliber gun at McCauley and shot him one time.

The other witnesses were out of sight by that point and did not see Landers shoot McCauley, according to Godwin.

“The bullet went into Mr. McCauley’s left side, came out, went through his forearm and hit his thumb,” Godwin said. “The firearm was taken away and it’s never been recovered. The bullet was recovered.”

Godwin said that Landers did not admit to shooting McCauley but did admit he had became angry over the comment.

“He claimed that Mr. McCauley had this weapon,” Godwin said. “He described the weapon like the others did.”

Landers — who has three other felonies on his record for nighttime burglary, grand larceny and unlawful assault — entered the guilty plea without admitting guilt on Wednesday to avoid the recidivism statute and mitigate possible exposure to more time in prison.

If convicted of the original charge of malicious wounding, Landers could have faced two to 10 years in prison.

Hawkins told the court that the plea was in Landers’ best interest.

Godwin said McCauley was treated and released from the hospital and had not been responsive to his office since then.

Judge Kurt Hall sentenced Landers to one to five years in prison with credit for time served since April 19, 2018.