Brian Cloninger Sentenced to 45 Years for Shooting Boy in the Face

Brian Cloninger, the man convicted of shooting 8-year-old Donald "D.J." Maiden in the face in 2013, was sentenced to 45 years in prison Friday.

The boy, now 9-years old, has undergone surgery to repair his face. But his grandmother Sharon Locklin testified Friday at Cloninger's sentencing that D.J. still lives in fear of seeing the shooter again and in fear of kids bullying over his appearance.

"He always asks, 'Well, grandma, am I always going to look like this?' And I say, 'We're trying D.J., we're really trying to make you like your old self,'" Locklin said.

Cloninger, 48, admits going to the boy's Dallas apartment complex to see a prostitute, but still claims he does not remember the shooting because of prescription drugs and alcohol he used that day. At his sentencing Friday, Cloninger asked the judge to return him to his work as a plumber so he could pay restitution to the family.

"I just hope that someday the family of Donald can forgive me and I just beg for mercy and the opportunity to get help and possibly become a productive member of society," Cloninger said.

The judge imposed the 45-year sentence without comment.

The victim's relatives said they were satisfied but still troubled by the medical treatment that lies ahead.

"The man will be away for a while so he has a chance to grow into his adulthood and become the best man he can be," Locklin said.

Prosecutor Carmen White said the law grants no defense for voluntary intoxication before a crime.

"Today we believe that justice was served, that D.J. will be able to go on and live his life knowing that the criminal justice system works," White said.

Cloninger Found Guilty

Cloninger was found guilty last week.

There was no jury in the trial. Retired Judge Gary Stephens heard the case. 

Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest, Cloninger began his testimony Tuesday afternoon with an apology.

"More than anything I wanted to say something to the family, that I'm sorry about what happened that day," Cloninger said.

The plumber went on to explain how he arranged to meet a transsexual prostitute for a massage at the boy's apartment complex that day because he was distraught over being laid off from his job.

He said he'd left a gun in his pick-up truck from an excursion the weekend before.

Cloninger said he was taking the medication Vyvanse for attention deficit disorder and he had a strange reaction to the drug. He also admitted drinking numerous cans of beer and said he went "lights out" before he left the prostitute's apartment.

"I do not ever recall seeing Donald, a child. I don't remember picking up the gun. I don't remember firing the gun. I don't remember setting the gun back down. I wish I could sit here and tell you I did.

It would clear a lot of things up. I don't ever remember being out of the vehicle," Cloninger said.

The boy's family members were in the court room during Cloninger's testimony Tuesday. They became emotional and left after listening to what Cloninger said.

Earlier Tuesday, Cloninger's wife, Martha Ewing Cloninger, testified that she was shocked to hear what her husband had done that day.

"That would be an understatement," she said.

She denied knowing her husband had any interest in prostitutes and said she had had never seen him as inebriated as he was reported to have been the day of the crime. His wife said she did know Brian Cloninger was not supposed to drink alcohol or have firearms because he was on probation for drunk driving.

Dallas psychiatrist John Tallmadge testified the combination of drugs and alcohol could induce stupor and account for amnesia.

Prosecution witnesses occupied the first week of the trial and it adjourned Tuesday before Brian Cloninger was finished on the stand.

NBC 5's Holley Ford contributed to this report.

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