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Man sentenced in 'fight-night' shooting

By Michael Davis

mdavis@news-daily.com

A man accused in a 2007 shooting death in College Park was sentenced Friday to life in prison, plus 35 years, his attorney said.

Nelson Carlos Guajardo was convicted last month in the May 6, 2007 shooting death of 29-year-old Derek Leondra King, of Jonesboro. Police said at the time that Guajardo and King were at an apartment on Flat Shoals Road in College Park, with others, watching a Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya fight on TV the night of the shooting.

Police said that after the fight, Guajardo and King got into a fight in the living room of the apartment, and the man living there threw Guajardo out. King stepped outside for a cigarette and had apparently finished when he stepped back into the doorway and was struck in the chest by a flying bullet.

The bullet that struck King had reportedly passed through the carport wall, the living room wall, the living room and the dining room before killing him.

Witnesses reportedly told police they had seen Guajardo's vehicle fleeing the scene after five shots were fired.

Guajardo's attorney, Vernon H. Smith, III, said his client maintained that he shot into the home to protect himself from being attacked. "He was shooting at a person who was coming out of the house toward him with a gun," Smith said.

Guajardo was convicted on charges of felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. Smith said he was acquitted by a jury on a charge of malice murder.

"They said they didn't believe it was done with malice, but they did believe an aggravated assault was committed and as a result of that aggravated assault, a murder was committed," Smith said.

Guajardo was on the run for nearly two years after the shooting. Police wrote in an application for an arrest warrant that the man, who was 32 at the time, had a Texas driver's license and family in Jonesboro and Morrow. He was indicted in the case in September 2008, and U.S. Marshals in Pittsburgh, Pa., caught him in a motel parking lot near the airport there in April 2009.