A clear surveillance video of the crime and help from a regional fugitive task force culminated in a man pleading guilty to shooting another man in East Rome in 2017.

According Floyd County Assistant District Attorney Leah Mayo and Floyd County Jail records:

Christopher Kenyun Atwater, 34, shot another man in the leg with a 9mm pistol at the Big H on East 12th Street on April 27, 2017.

The victim in the case pulled up to the Big H that evening with his two children. The kids went into the store and he then exchanged words with Atwater and Monyea Mico Smith. Atwater shot him and left the area and the victim’s two children found him laying on the ground.

Smith turned himself in at the jail a few days after the incident and police arrested Atwater in July 2017. When Atwater didn’t show up for court in April 2018 they requested the U.S. Marshals Southeastern Regional Task force to find him. A little while later the task force found him working in a hotel in Atlanta.

The district attorney’s office offered Atwater a plea deal of 20 years, to serve 15 in prison, but he declined that offer. They selected a jury in preparation for trial and went to test the video system in the courtroom, Mayo said.

They briefly reviewed the security footage of the crime and went back to trial preparations. In many cases the surveillance video is grainy or low resolution, but she said in this case the footage was very clear from the Big H security system.

At that point Atwater, who could see the footage being played, indicated he’d like to take the plea deal. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault as well as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and was sentenced.

Smith, who was with Atwater at the time of the shooting, earlier pleaded guilty to his part in the crime, District Attorney Leigh Patterson said.

The Cherokee County, Alabama, District Attorney’s office assisted in making sure the victim of the shooting appeared as a witness in the case as well, Patterson said.