Nathaniel Hunter, 34, was convicted on Friday and sentenced to 45 years in prison for a violent home invasion in which he shot a mother five times as she tried to protect her 6-year-old daughter from rape, the 11th circuit solicitor’s office said in a news release.
The attack occured in West Columbia around 3 a.m. on April 13, 2014.
The mother awoke to find Hunter, dressed in black from head to foot, in her bedroom, armed with a handgun and ordering her and her daughter out of their clothes.
With her daughter undressed, the mother lunged at Hunter. Although she was shot five times, she wrestled with him, ripped off his stocking cap and shoved him toward the front door. He fled.
The call to 911 was placed at 3:08 a.m. from a neighbor’s apartment where the mother, bleeding profusely, had collapsed, prosecutors said.
Investigators connected Hunter to the crime through DNA on the stocking cap. A repeat offender, Hunter’s DNA was on file with the State Law Enforcement Division. Other evidence tying Hunter to the crime scene included photographs on his cell phone showing him brandishing a .40 caliber Glock, consistent with the weapon used to shoot the victim.
His phone, confiscated when he was arrested, also showed he had done web searches on the topic of DNA evidence and testing. And after the attack, he called both SLED and the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon, attempting to have his DNA removed from their database.
Hunter’s DNA profile had been placed in the database following a 2003 conviction for possession of burglary tools. He also was convicted of indecent exposure following a 2010 incident involving a child.
Having survived the attack, the mother and daughter, now 9 years old, testified at Hunter’s trial.
The mother asked the judge for a lengthy sentence, saying Hunter had “forever stolen her daughter’s security and innocence,” the solicitor’s office said.
He was convicted of first-degree burglary, attempted murder, third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.