Valdosta man heads to prison for shootout - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta man heads to prison for shootout

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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

A Valdosta man is headed to prison for his part in a deadly shootout at a public housing complex.

26-year old Bernard Sanders was acquitted of murder charges earlier this month but he was convicted of aggravated assault and gun charges.

Thursday on his young son's birthday, he found out how long he'll spend in prison.

Bernard Sanders was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years probation for aggravated assault and gun charges.

Earlier this month a jury found him not guilty of murdering 19-year old Sidney Bivins. Bivins was the only one who died at that Hudson Dockett housing complex when gunfire broke out on November 15, 2009 among a crowd of people. 10 others were wounded including Sanders.

 "That was a life lost for no reason," said Rashad McQueen, Bivins' cousin.

Bivins' family attended Sanders sentencing.

"We got some closure something that will mend our hearts because Sidney was a good person He got two kids a son that knew him and a daughter who was born a couple months after," said Taschar McQueen. "She'll never get to know him but we got a lot of memories of him."

Sanders' sister told us she doesn't feel justice was done.

"It was a situation of him protecting him and his family," said Kimika Hunter. "That other side came over and started trouble and no one has got prosecuted for that it's not fair."

She's holding Sanders son Bernard Sanders Junior who turned five Thursday.

"So his daddy got sentenced on his birthday but it's a sad thing now," said Hunter. "When he grows up he's got to remember his father went to prison."

That mass shooting is what many consider one of the worst crimes in Valdosta's history.

"Hi Daddy," said Bernard Sanders Jr. "I love you."

Violence tears apart families and a lot of people we've talked to say it needs to stop for the sake of the kids.

During Sanders trial, prosecutors argued he intended to kill and should have been convicted of malice murder.

But he wasn't the only one who fired shots and guns were ever recovered.


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