VALPARAISO | Lake Station resident Jason King was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty in May of attempting to murder a Gary man by shooting him in the face at a South Haven bar.
King, who continues to claim he did not commit the offense, was awarded a public defender to appeal his case.
"I believe he has the wrong person," King said. "I know for sure he has the wrong person."
Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper accepted the sentence recommended by the adult probation department, saying she could find no legal justification to shorten the term.
She said King has been charged with crimes nine times and has three felony and two misdemeanor convictions from different offenses. There also was strong evidence provided during the trial to back up the guilty finding in this case.
"This was not a close case at all," she said.
King, 37, was found guilty of attempted murder and aggravated battery for shooting Woodrow McGuire Jr. on Feb. 4, 2011, at The Warehouse bar.
Prosecutors said during the trial that McGuire reported being pushed a few times before King pulled the .22-caliber handgun from the waistband of his pants and shot him.
Police said at the time King told them he fired the shot because he "thought something might happen."
King testified he exchanged words with McGuire after noticing McGuire staring at him, after which time an unknown individual reached over his shoulder and shot McGuire in the face.
McGuire suffered a minor wound and was released from the hospital emergency room the same night. Police said at the time McGuire later was transported to a Chicago hospital for surgery.
McGuire told the court Tuesday he no longer hates King for the offense.
"I forgive him," McGuire said. "I hope God forgives him."
McGuire's mother, Anita Neal, said the shooting has changed her life and has left her uneasy each time her son is away.
"It just hurts, you know?" she said.