Teens sentenced to prison after shooting homeless veteran

- Two teenagers have been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to shooting a homeless veteran.

Cody Austin Gaines, 18, and Blake Allen Sergel, 18, were planning to break into cars in Marietta on New Year's Day, the Cobb County District Attorney's office said in a statement.

The two teenagers approached the 57-year-old veteran and demanded money. When he responded that he didn't have any, Sergal shot him. The teens then fled after stealing the vet's cigarettes.

The veteran has been permanently paralyzed after the shooting.

“It is intolerable that any innocent victim – particularly one who risked his life serving our country – should have to pay for these teenagers’ utter disregard for human life,” said Assistant District Attorney Theresa Schiefer, who prosecuted the case.

Marrieta police had few leads on the shooting until Gaines was arrested days later on a different charge. He told police what had happened, saying he didn't know that Sergal was going to shoot the man.

Gaines pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated assault in August. He was sentenced to serve eight years in prison. 

On Monday, Sergel pleaded guilty to armed robbery, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. He was sentenced to 20 years, with 15 years to serve in prison and five years on probation.

The victim told officials that he believes Gaines saved his life by pulling Sergel away and preventing him from firing again.

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