Convicted on charges of indecent exposure and pointing a firearm, former Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Robert Payne on Friday asked a judge for a lenient sentence because he has cancer.
Circuit Judge Roger Young sentenced Payne, 67, to three years in prison with credit for time served and five years probation. He faced a maximum five years on the weapon charge.
The case stemmed from accusations that Payne fired a shotgun at neighbors and exposed himself while living on a houseboat in a marsh near Shem Creek. Residents of the Bayview Acres subdivision also reported seeing Payne drinking and urinating off the top of his boat.
A Charleston County jury found Payne not guilty on an additional first-degree assault and battery charge, largely due to questions about whether he fired the weapon in the air or toward his neighbors.
On Friday, Payne apologized for any harm he caused his neighbors but insisted that he was innocent of the charges.
He asked a judged to consider his health before determining a sentence. He said he has cancer, and he expressed concern that he wouldn’t receive adequate health care if incarcerated.
“Don’t sentence me to death. Just let me have treatment at the VA,” Payne said.
Young told Payne that locals are often considerate of those believed to be eccentric, but that didn’t excuse Payne’s behavior.
“You stepped over the line when you fired off your shotgun. ... Part of your problem is you don’t think about other people. You think about yourself too much, from what I’ve gathered,” Young said before announcing the sentence.
Young proceeded to ban Payne from the property where the incident occurred and from contacting the victims listed in the case.
The trial began Monday and concluded Thursday afternoon. The jury failed to reach a verdict then and resumed deliberations Friday morning.
On Memorial Day weekend in 2011, officers found Payne in the marsh carrying a shotgun and wearing swim trunks, according to an incident report. While officers were there, they heard a gunshot, then saw Payne walking toward them while holding the gun with the barrel pointed in the air, the report stated. He was then arrested and spent about a year in the Charleston County jail awaiting trial.
Payne served as a town councilman from 1976-80.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908
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