Guilty verdict in case of teen paralyzed by gunshot

October 17, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
A jury has found Robert Sansberry guilty of aggravated battery with a firearm in the shooting of Ondelee Perteet.

Prosecutors say Sansberry, 17, fired the shot in 2009 that left Perteet, 17, paralyzed. The trial lasted three days and the jury took less than two hours to reach a verdict.

It took police some time to charge Sansberry in this case, because even though there were witnesses to the shooting, no one would come forward.

When Perteet was shot in the face, he became a quadriplegic. He has made incredible progress after two years of rehabilitation. But he will quite likely require a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Perteet was at a party hosted by his sisters in September 2009. Sansberry was a guest but when a dispute erupted he was told to leave. Police say he returned with a gun and shot Perteet, who was 14 years old at the time.

Sansberry has maintained his innocence throughout. His attorney called a few witnesses in the case for the prosecution "liars." But the jury believed those witnesses and convicted Sansberry.

Perteet and his mother, Deetreena Perteet, both feel just was done, but neither is jubilant.

"I just hope he learns his lesson. And I hope he changes his life around, because somewhere along the line I feel like somebody failed him. Somebody didn't teach him right from wrong," said Deetreena Perteet.

"I was glad, but at the same time, like my mom said, I feel bad for him 'cause that's two lives messed up," said Ondelee Perteet.

Perteet continues his rehab work, but his limited by the chair he must sit in. His progress has astounded his therapists who marvel at his determination. He is now relearning what a bullet took away from him. In September, Perteet learned to stand and took his own steps with the assistance of therapist Nathan Coomer, who used encouraging words, "step right through, step right through... strong step through," at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital.

To come from no movement in arms and legs to taking steps is extraordinary. It speaks to the strength of youth and the power of a young man with a goal.

"To work hard, man, to leave this chair," Perteet said.

Doctors say there are limits to what Perteet will be able to recover, but the 17-year-old has not found those limits. He does, however, face a long journey ahead.

Sansberry faces between six and 30 years in prison.

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