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URBANA — A Champaign man who shot into an occupied car while under the influence of drugs and alcohol was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.

Judge Tom Difanis, in one of the final felony sentences of his 25-year judicial career, also agreed to recommend Michael McCray, 25, for drug treatment in prison.

In September, a jury convicted McCray, who listed an address in the 1300 block of North Champaign Street, of aggravated discharge of a firearm.

“Over and over and over again in this community we have young men arming themselves with firearms and for no reason other than he was mad at somebody, firing it,” Difanis said.

In McCray’s case, evidence at trial showed that on April 18, he fired into the rear passenger door of a car containing three women who had just dropped him off at the Country Brook apartment complex in Champaign, where he had asked to be taken.

No one was hurt, but one of the women was right next to the door that the bullet entered.

A jury rejected McCray’s last-minute claim that he fired in self-defense because he believed the driver was coming toward him.

Difanis said McCray, like scores of other young men, may believe he needs to be armed for protection.

“That is a circular argument that results in young men like Mr. McCray sitting in a courtroom waiting to be sentenced. These young women were no threat to him,” Difanis said.

McCray, whose only prior conviction came 10 years earlier as a juvenile for theft, apologized to Difanis and to the women for the emotional harm he caused them.

“I’m a young adult that made a stupid decision,” he said of his actions in April.

McCray said he wanted to continue his education in carpentry, be a father to his two daughters and be free to help his ailing mother who needs a kidney transplant.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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