CROWN POINT — A 23-year-old defendant was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for shooting a man multiple times at a Hammond bar in 2019 and illegally carrying a gun earlier that year.
Daquan Birdsong, of East Chicago, could have faced up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in March to criminal recklessness and carrying a handgun without a license, both level 5 felonies.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez said Birdsong's criminal history began when he was a juvenile in 2012. As an adult, Birdsong already has been charged multiple times with firearms offenses.
"All I see here is break after break after break," the judge said. "Your lesson should have been learned five years ago, six years ago. ... You pick a date in your life."
The man Birdsong shot and wounded Aug. 26, 2019, at Flick's Tap in Hammond could have died, Vasquez said.
"His life will be changed forever," the judge said. "That's horrible. Just horrible."
Vasquez said giving Birdsong less than six years — the maximum possible sentence on the charge linked to the Flick's shooting — would be to ignore the man's serious injuries.
Vasquez said he's give Birdsong a break on the gun charge, sentencing him to two years rather than a maximum of six.
The two sentences must run consecutively under Indiana law.
Two of Birdsong's co-defendants in the shooting case were treated at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago for minor gunshot wounds, court documents say.
Birdsong's attorney, Scott King, said the shooting stemmed from "a stupid argument fueled by alcohol and youth."
"It's a shame we're in a state that provides as easy access to firearms, as Indiana has chosen to do," King said. "It's a shame the law doesn't make it more difficult to access weapons."
King said judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are the "clean up crew," charged with dealing with what happens because of the state's lax gun laws.
Defense attorney Adrian Guzman said the charges to which Birdsong pleaded guilty were his first felony convictions.
Birdsong served nearly a year in jail while his cases were pending, and his attorneys asked for a sentence that included alternative placement or probation.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Jacquelyn Altpeter said Birdsong previously failed at probation and has continued to rack up criminal case after criminal case.
The man Birdsong shot had to relearn how to walk and talk and can't carry his child because of his wounds, she said.
Birdsong received a considerable benefit in his plea agreement, because several higher charges — which carry stiffer penalties — were to be dismissed.
Birdsong apologized to the man and said he's changed his life around and wants to be there for his child.
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