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An aspiring country singer who shot a homeless man during a confrontation on Nashville’s famed Music Row was sentenced to nearly a year of probation.
Katie Quackenbush, 32, was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days of unsupervised probation on Thursday for the shooting of Gerald Melton in 2017 after a two-day trial, according to The Tennessean.
The mother of four was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2018. However, she's since been found guilty of one misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment, according to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com.
In 2017, she reportedly shot the then-54-year-old Melton, who was experiencing homelessness at the time, twice after an argument about loud music and exhaust fumes coming from her car, a Porsche SUV, which was parked in the area of the famed Music Row in downtown Nashville. Quackenbush testified that the shooting was in self-defense, WKRN reported.
Melton told jurors that Quackenbush asked him if he “wanted to die tonight,” according to The Tennessean. He testified that he was walking away when Quackenbush got out of her SUV and fired two shots at him.
She fled the scene after the shooting and went to Taco Bell with a passenger, the Tennessean reported. Neither reported the shooting and another individual called for help after finding Melton on the street.
Melton suffered a critical abdominal wound and has undergone multiple surgeries since the shooting, according to multiple media outlets.
An emotional Quackenbush apologized to Melton, expressing regret during the sentencing hearing.
"This has been the worst experience of my life, but I'm grateful that I had it, because it has changed me so dramatically to the core," Quackenbush said in court, according to the Tennessean. "Sometimes hard lessons are the best lessons."
Quackenbush said that she was ostracized and even received death threats after her mugshot went viral after her arrest, the newspaper reported.
She said she was unable to get a job or get into college and described her ordeal as having “one foot in purgatory and the other in real life,” the Tennessean reported.
“Millions of people were making fun of me online. I was convicted by the community before trial,” she said. “For five years, I’ve been having to live with this … social punishment. Even after all of this is over, Google is always going to be there. This will follow me for the rest of my life.”
She told the court that the ordeal had made her a better person and she wants to be there for her four young children.
“This has inspired me to do better,” she said, according to the Tennessean. "It inspired me to help people who have been in my shoes.”
During the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Amy Hunter asked the judge to consider the severity of Melton’s injuries and Quackenbush’s actions after the shooting, arguing against Quackenbush's lawyer, Peter J. Strianse, who said that his client was a changed woman.
“She used that weapon to shoot an unarmed man who had only used words against her,” Hunter said, according to the Tennessean.
Quackenbush now lives in Texas and will complete her sentence in that state, WKRN reported.
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