Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for pointing gun at Houston deputies

wcrenshaw@macon.comNovember 14, 2013 

Clayboss

PERRY -- After a long, rambling statement in his defense, a man convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at sheriff’s deputies was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years probation Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Edward Lukemire sentenced David Michael Clayboss, 63, to 20 years each on two counts of aggravated assault, with 15 to serve in prison and five on probation. The two sentences will be served concurrently, but he was also sentenced to five years probation on a charge of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, to be served consecutively to the other sentences.

He will be banned from Houston County while he is on probation.

Houston County Deputy Jamario Tyrone Johnson shot Clayboss during the incident that occurred at Clayboss’ home June 9, 2012.

Assistant District Attorney Clif Woody, the lead prosecutor in the trial, asked Lukemire to sentence Clayboss, a Vietnam veteran, to 20 years in prison.

Johnson and another deputy responded to a call of a domestic dispute between Clayboss and his wife. Woody said evidence in the trial, held in August, showed that Johnson fired after Clayboss pointed a 20-gauge shotgun at him.

“All Mr. Clayboss had to do was come out and tell his side of the story, and, yes, he would probably have been charged with family violence battery, but we would not be here today,” Woody told the judge.

Woody said audio from the deputies’ recorders indicated they repeatedly told him to drop the weapon. Clayboss also allegedly pointed a handgun at the other deputy.

Clayboss did not testify at trial, but in his sentencing hearing he read a written statement that went on for more than 30 minutes. He said he was in his bedroom when he told the deputies he would meet them in the yard. He said he came out of the bedroom carrying guns but did not know the deputies were still outside the bedroom, and that’s when the shooting started. He denied pointing a gun at the deputies.

“I do not condemn these men for their actions. ... They were just wrong,” said Clayboss, who was shackled during the hearing. “They had a job to do. They did it wrong.”

Lukemire said the jury determined otherwise, and he had to base his sentence on that. Clayboss’ attorney, Guy Womack, asked that he be sentenced to the time he has served since his arrest and released.

Womack said the conviction means Clayboss can no longer own a gun, and he did not foresee such an incident happening again.

Lukemire acknowledged Clayboss’ wife and children submitted letters on his behalf.

“It is true that no officer was shot, but that is more due to the grace of God than any action on your part,” Lukemire told Clayboss prior to sentencing. “You created an extremely dangerous situation there. ... This court is really concerned that as of this moment, you don’t get what happened.”

Clayboss began his statement by saying he had campaigned for Lukemire. He went on to talk about preaching to inmates in the Houston County jail and singing Christmas carols, and he gave details about his wife and children.

Sometimes tearful, he finally got around to talking about the night of the shooting. He said he and his wife, Mary Ellen, had been fighting, and he had given her “an old-fashioned spanking.” He went to his bedroom, he said, and then he heard deputies telling him to come outside.

Woody said after the hearing that had Clayboss given that story at his trial, the state had ample evidence to refute it, including conflicting statements previously given by Clayboss.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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