Aiken Co. repeat offender sentenced after shooting man in face

Kevin Claeys (WRDW-TV)

Kevin Claeys (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 15, 2012

LANGLEY, S.C. -- Standing in front of Circuit Court Judge Jack Early, 37-year-old Kevin Claeys of Langley pleaded guilty to attempted murder, kidnapping and two counts of first-degree burglary on Monday.

"I know that I was wrong for what happened, and I take full responsibility. I can't take it back. I wish I could. If I could, I would," Claeys said tearfully in a statement to the Judge.

In June, Claeys fired a 22-revolver at a home on Augusta Road, and then ran down Gray Street, where he shot a homeowner, Oscar Sanchez-Espinoza, in the face. The bullet struck him under the right nostril and traveled through his face, exiting behind his ear. Miraculously, Sanchez-Espinoza is fine but had to pay $117,000 in facial surgeries.

"He could have died. That man could have died, and they've got several children,” said neighbor Lois Holley.

After the shooting on Gray Street, Claeys went to a home nearby on Jackson Street, where Holley and her daughter were watching TV.

"All of a sudden, the back door was just kicked in, and he went toward my daughter with the gun," Holley said.

But Holley says she wasn't scared. She told her daughter to dial 911, which she bravely did, while Claeys was still in the room.

Ultimately, her daughter made a run for it, but Holley stayed with the armed man. She actually got her gun to fight back, but Claeys pulled it away.

"And I told him, that was fine. I've got two things of knives over there. We'll go that way," she said.

Finally, Claeys surrendered, and she marched him outside and into police custody.

She wasn't shot, but Holley says Claeys took a lot from them and the entire Langley community.

"He had no right to mess mine and my daughter's life up. He had no right,” Holley said.

Claeys will spend 25 years behind bars with no parole. He must serve at least 85 percent percent of his term before he’s eligible for release.

Assistant Solicitor David Miller says Claeys was on meth and Klonopin at the time of the incident.

Claeys admitted to Judge Early that he’s had drug problems his whole life. He said he started using marijuana at age 12, which led to cocaine and meth. He dropped out of school during the 10th grade.

Claeys was actually on probation at the time of the incident for receiving stolen goods. He also has convictions for failing to stop for police, three counts of assault with intent to kill, criminal domestic violence, burglary and injury to property.

He was released from jail just about a month before the shooting.

The public defender said Claeys didn't intend to break into house or shoot anyone, because he wasn't in his right mind.

Judge Early cut her off.

“This is a classic example of what drug usage can lead to,” he said.

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