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‘There’s not a better place to prepare you for the unexpected than this university’

Watch Martha Childress testify in the 2015 trial of Michael Juan Smith

In 2013, USC freshman Martha Childress was paralyzed after errant gunfire from Michael Juan Smith in Five Points. In 2015, Smith was convicted of attempted murder.
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In 2013, USC freshman Martha Childress was paralyzed after errant gunfire from Michael Juan Smith in Five Points. In 2015, Smith was convicted of attempted murder.

In a letter published in the Daily Gamecock, the young Greenville, S.C., woman paralyzed by a stray bullet as she waited for a cab in Five Points one October night in 2013 said the University of South Carolina has “given me the courage to go forth and conquer anything in my way.”

Martha Childress graduates in May with a degree in management. She said during her time at USC she has experienced both the lowest of lows and joys she never thought were possible.

Her letter does not make direct reference to the crime that left her paralyzed from the waist down and consumed a large part of her college life. She does note that the college community was torn by tragedies during her four years that saw the loss of “members of our Gamecock family and [...] homes torn apart.”

“There were times I thought I would never make it to this moment,” she wrote in her graduation letter.

The shooting kept Childress out of school for a year. Since her return in the fall of 2014, she has been honored for her courage.

In Augusta 2015, she testified at the trial of Michael Juan Smith.

Smith was convicted of the shooting that left Childress paralyzed from the waist down and sentenced to 40 years in prison. .

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