Convicted shooter sentenced to 35 years in prison

·2 min read

May 27—A Glynn County man convicted in January of firing a 9mm handgun into the area of a fight and wounding a bystander was sentenced Friday to 35 years in prison, a release from the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office said.

Bruce Christopher Stephens, 30, was sentenced by Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley to serve 20 years in prison for his aggravated assault conviction, 10 years for his possession of a firearm by a convicted felon conviction and five years for possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony. All sentences are to run consecutively and are the maximum for the offenses.

Stephens was convicted Jan. 13 of shooting Justavian Lavar Simmons, who was trying to break up a fight in the front yard of a Burroughs Avenue home on July 29, 2021.

Evidence at trial showed that women were fighting in the front yard of 3608 Burroughs Ave., one of whom was Stephens' sister, and that he came outside and fired four shots into the fracas, causing severe injuries to Simmons' stomach.

Simmons was airlifted to UF Health Shands in Jacksonville. His health condition continues to deteriorate and he needs an intestinal transplant, the release said.

"Justavian remains in the hospital due to the severity of his injuries," the release said. "The victim's mother testified prior to sentencing and told the court that Justavian still requires a transplant, but is not healthy enough to be put on the active transplant list."

Chief Assistant District Attorney Nigel Lush said after the conviction that the details of this case are particularly tragic.

"You can't bring a gun to a fistfight," he said in a statement in January. "The defendant took no time to assess the situation before opening fire. It wasn't a matter of life and death for his sister.

"Our prayers are with Justavian, his child and the rest of his family that he can get the intestinal transplant he needs."