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Assault trial alleges witness tampering

Man still convicted in armed home invasion

POSTED: October 1, 2008 5:01 a.m.
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Terrance Dante Shields

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A Gainesville man with a long history with local law enforcement was convicted Friday of an armed home invasion burglary, despite the victims’ reluctance to point him out in court.

Prosecutors said that reluctance may have stemmed from efforts by the defendant to influence their testimony.

Terrance Dante Shields, 34, was found guilty of aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery, burglary and battery in connection with a February 2007 incident at a Flowery Branch home, Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said.

According to evidence presented during the weeklong trial by prosecutor Lindsay Burton, Shields and an unknown woman forced their way into a home on Hartford Place that was occupied by six adults and four children younger than 7.

Shields went room to room, demanding money at gunpoint, and during a struggle over his gun, a shot was fired that missed the victim’s head by inches, according to evidence presented in court.

Shields was convicted despite the failure of any of the adult victims to identify him from the witness stand during the trial. The prosecution introduced prior statements made by the witnesses in which they identified Shields as the assailant.

Burton also presented evidence that Shields tried to influence the witnesses’ testimony while he was in jail awaiting trial, Darragh said.

Judge C. Andrew Fuller indicated during the trial that the witnesses could face citations for contempt of court for failure to testify truthfully.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before returning with a verdict of guilty on all counts.

Fuller deferred sentencing to a later date.

Shields faces maximum sentences of 30 years for attempted armed robbery and 20 years for burglary and aggravated assault.

After the verdict, Burton introduced Shields’ 21 prior criminal convictions. They ranged from speeding to possession of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Shields had earlier been tried and acquitted of other serious felony offenses not connected to this week’s case.



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