ELKTON — A man charged with attempted murder after he shot two people during a party inside an Elkton residence in April has been sentenced to time served — 127 days — after accepting a binding plea deal.
The defendant, Emmanuel Luis Nieves, 29, of the 100 block of Hollingsworth Manor in Elkton, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence, during a courtroom hearing Tuesday.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped two counts each of the most serious charges — attempted second-degree murder, which is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, and first-degree assault, an offense that carries a maximum 25-year sentence. Prosecutors also dismissed 10 other charges, including use of handgun in the commission of a felony or a crime of violence and two counts of reckless endangerment.
Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes imposed a six-year sentence on Nieves and then suspended all but the 127 days that Nieves had spent in the county jail as a pretrial inmate after his arrest, in accordance with the binding plea agreement negotiated by Assistant State’s Attorney Michael J. Halter and Nieves’ Elkton-based lawyer, Edward Rollins III.
Also in line with the binding plea agreement, Baynes placed Nieves on three years of supervised probation, advising him that, should he violate probation, he could face a sentence of more than five and a half years — the portion of his sentence that was not suspended.
Court records indicate that Nieves was released from the Cecil County Detention Center at some point after the hearing Tuesday, the day his jury trial was scheduled to start.
The state reportedly offered the binding plea deal to Nieves because the two victims and eyewitnesses could not be located to testify at his trial.
After the incident, which occurred at about 1:30 a.m. April 7 inside a residence in the 200 block of Hollingsworth Manor, Elkton Police Department officials reported that Nieves had been attending a house party at that address, but, at some point, he was asked to leave because of his disorderly conduct. Nieves left, as asked, but returned to the residence a short time later and that led to a confrontation, according to police. The incident occurred one block from where Nieves was living, police noted.
“At some point during the confrontation, Mr. Nieves was forced out of the house onto the front porch. It was at this time (that) Mr. Nieves fired shots through the front door and the front of the residence, striking two individuals located inside the residence,” Capt. Joseph Zurolo, an EPD spokesman, told the Cecil Whig shortly after the incident.
Police identified the victims only as a 42-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man, both of whom suffered what investigators described as non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
The woman, who was taken by ambulance to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, suffered a gunshot wound to her right shoulder, Zurolo said, noting that the bullet appeared to have exited through her back left shoulder. An ambulance drove the man to Union Hospital in Elkton, where doctors treated him for a graze wound to his upper right torso, Zurolo added.
Investigators recovered five spent 9mm shell casings at the shooting scene and a live round in the street, according to police. One of bullets fired by the gunman traveled through the house and then lodged in a backyard shed, where investigators recovered the round, police reported.
Approximately 10 people were at the party when the gunman opened fire, and some of those witnesses identified Nieves as the shooter, according to Zurolo, who further reported that Nieves fled from the scene.
Investigators were able to track down Nieves and they arrested him April 16, after posting a wanted notice on the agency’s Facebook page and cautioning the public, “He is considered armed and dangerous. If located, do not approach.”