YOUNGSTOWN - A 21-year-old Browning Avenue man accused of killing a young boy while he slept in his bed last summer avoided a possible death sentence Monday and pleaded guilty instead to aggravated murder.
Shawn Wilson was immediately sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole on the charge that carried an additional 13 years for improperly firing a gun into a home, felonious assault with an automatic weapon, tampering with evidence and an enhancement for firing the gun from a car.
Wilson was scheduled to go on trial Jan. 14 after he was found competent to stand trial a month ago.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum handed down the sentence as Wilson apologized to the tearful family of the young boy.
Wilson could have faced the death penalty if convicted of the Aug. 20 death of Bryce Linebaugh, 8. Specifications included that the victim was younger than 13.
Linebaugh was sleeping in his parents' East Side Rockford Village apartment building about 1 a.m. when Wilson sprayed the building with bullets, police reports state. One of the bullets struck Linebaugh in the head. He died a short time later of his wound.
Police said Wilson had argued with a woman earlier in the evening and vowed to shoot her. She lives in a neighboring apartment, police said.
Officers found an assault rifle they believe was used in the attack, reports state.
Wilson had been on probation for a previous weapons violation at the time of Linebaugh's death, according to court records.
Tribune newspartner WYTV contributed to this report.