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CHARLESTON -- A Mattoon man was found guilty of first-degree murder by a Coles County jury Tuesday.

Here are five things we learned during the trial of James Todd Shafer, 26, of Mattoon.

NEXT STEP

Shafer is scheduled to be sentenced on April 20. For the first-degree murder conviction, a prison sentence of 45 years to life is required.

THE JURY'S TAKE

Although Shafer may have felt threatened during a confrontation at a Mattoon apartment on June 18, 2016, it wasn't enough to justify firing the shot that killed Ciara Faires, the jury concluded in finding the defendant guilty.

Jurors also decided Shafer knew he was firing at another person, not necessarily Faires, and found him guilty of second-degree murder, an offense alleging Shafer felt threatened but his actions in response weren't justified.

The first-degree murder guilty verdict was on a charge alleging Shafer committed an underlying offense, aggravated discharge of a firearm. That accused him of intentionally shooting in the direction of another person or other people, resulting in a death.

Other charges accused Shafer of shooting intending to kill or harm Faires or another person and he that knew shooting meant a death was likely. Those resulted in the second-degree murder convictions.

WHAT THE DEFENDANT SAID

Shafer testified in his own defense, saying he felt threatened when he fired gunshots through an apartment door. He said he had no intention of hitting his girlfriend.

His fear that a group of men was seeking retribution for Shafer's not going through with a robbery compounded when he heard what he thought was a gunshot outside the apartment, he said during court testimony.

"There was someone outside with a gun trying to hurt me," he said.

PROSECUTION VS. DEFENSE

As the trial started, the prosecution said evidence would show that Shafer gave various versions of what happened but was "consistent with one thing," that he knew Faires was outside the apartment when he fired.

The defense contended that another man shot at least once while banging on the apartment's door. "Panic ensued" inside the apartment and it was "only later" that Shafer learned that Faires was killed, the defense attorney stated in opening arguments.

RELATED

Shawn D. Adamson is accused of first-degree murder, mob action and other offenses for allegedly starting the confrontation that led to Faires' death. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

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