A Chattanooga man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in connection with a fatal 2016 club shooting and agreed to a 15-year prison sentence.
Andrew Wilson Jr. appeared Wednesday in Hamilton County Criminal Court and was ordered to serve at least 45 percent of his sentence before he is parole eligible. He will receive credit for the roughly three years he spent in custody waiting for an outcome. His other charges, including a second-degree murder indictment in the 2013 death of Desmond McClure, were dismissed as part of Wednesday's plea agreement, said Bruce Garner, a spokesman for the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office. But as part of the plea, Wilson was also sentenced as a "range three offender," which carries more prison time.
On May 8, 2016, Chattanooga police went to Bella Vita, then a Mediterranean restaurant and part-time nightclub on Cowart Street, on reports of a person being shot. The victim was Johnny Sanders, a 40-year-old who'd previously been a reserve in the U.S. Army, according to trial testimony. Police quickly named Wilson a suspect after speaking with security guards who'd detained the 34-year-old. Bella Vita closed for a renovation and is now Coyote Jack's.
Police said Wilson initially told them he acted out of self-defense, as Sanders had a firearm in a holster that evening. But security footage showed Wilson shooting Sanders as Sanders fought with another man in the club, an affidavit of complaint says. According to testimony from a 2016 hearing, one of the people involved in the fight was a relative of Wilson's. At the time, a defense attorney for Wilson went after Sanders' history of altercations and said there was a lot going on at the scene.
A different witness during that hearing described Sanders as a "no nonsense guy" who stuck up for other people.
Contact Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.