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Man sentenced in 2011 shooting of former wife

A local man has pleaded guilty to shooting his ex-wife last fall and was sentenced Wednesday to serve 30 years in prison.

     Charles M. Netterville, 32, short-circuited plans for a trial next week in Hattiesburg by entering a “best interest” guilty plea Wednesday to charges of aggravated domestic violence and burglary of a dwelling. In a best interest, or Alford plea, a defendant maintains innocence but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to garner a conviction.

     Lincoln County authorities contend Netterville broke into the home of his ex-wife, Jennifer D. Netterville, on Nov. 5, 2011, and fired a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun at her, causing serious injury.

     At the time, law enforcement authorities reported Charles Netterville used the gun to shoot himself in the stomach.

     Charles and Jennifer Netterville’s two children were in the home at the time, and at least one of them witnessed the assault.

     A statement by son Gabe Netterville recounting the shooting was read during the sentencing portion of Wednesday’s hearing.

     “I just remember the blood,” read a court official from the statement, while Gabe Netterville sat in the viewing gallery, flanked by family members, his hand partially obscuring his face.

     Gabe’s statement consistently referred to his father only as “Charlie.”

     “He is not a daddy anymore,” said Gabe Netterville’s statement. “He chose his drugs and beer over me.”

     The sound of weeping and stifled tears became audible from the crowded gallery during Gabe Netterville’s statement.

     Jennifer Netterville also spoke before sentencing and urged the court to keep her ex-husband in prison and away from their children as long as possible.

     Like her son, she recalled the shooting and told the court of the moment when the “barrel of the shotgun was about 2 feet from my head.”

     After the shot, Jennifer Netterville said, “I laid on the floor waiting to die.”

     She described the seven surgeries she’s experienced because of the shooting and the eighth she’ll undergo Thursday.

     “I will never be able to clap for my kids for a job well done,” she said, indicating her now damaged and partially deformed left arm.

     At the time of the shooting, Jennifer and Charles Netterville had been divorced about three months. Prior to that, they’d been married four years but in a relationship a total of 15 years, Jennifer Netterville said.

     Charles Netterville’s aunt and a former co-worker spoke on his behalf prior to sentencing.

     Both described a good man with a strong work ethic before he became involved with drugs.

     “Before two years ago, you couldn’t find a better man,” his aunt, Geraldine Smith, said. “I believe with all my heart Charlie will never go down that road again.”

     Wednesday’s plea followed an attempt by Charles Netterville’s defense attorney to have him declared incompetent for trial.

     Due to a combination of alcohol and Ambien, defense attorney Joe Fernald said his client has no memory of the crime he’s charged with.

     Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Michael Taylor ruled Tuesday those factors did not render Fernald’s client incompetent for trial.

     With a trial scheduled then, Fernald said Charles Netterville chose to plead because the prosecution’s offer of a sentencing recommendation was about to expire.

     Further, Fernald said his client did not want his ex-wife or son to testify at trial.

      Taylor accepted the recommendation of prosecutors and sentenced Charles Netterville to a total of 45 years in prison with 15 suspended. Of the 30 years he’ll serve, 20 are for the charge of aggravated domestic violence and 10 for burglary of a dwelling.

     The burglary charge stems from his breaking into his wife’s residence at 751 Case Trail just prior to the shooting.

     “It’s a serious sentence and it’s a serious crime,” Taylor said.

     Taylor also cautioned Netterville that a best interest plea earns no special favor.

     “It’s treated as any other guilty plea,” Taylor said.

     Charles Netterville will also pay fines and restitution and was ordered to have no contact with his former wife for the duration of his sentence and subsequent probation.