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Suspect charged in central Columbia break-in, shooting

Justin Spence
Boone County Sheriff's Department
Justin Spence
Forest Avenue shooting
ABC 17 News
Columbia police investigate after a woman was shot Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020 in a Forest Avenue home.


Prosecutors have charged a man in connection with a break-in that resulted in a shooting early Tuesday in central Columbia.

Justin J. Spence, 39, was charged Wednesday with three felonies -- first-degree assault, armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon -- and a misdemeanor -- first-degree trespassing.

Watch playback of a police news conference on the arrest in the player below.

He was in the Boone County Jail on Wednesday with no bond.

The Columbia Police Department released information Tuesday on two break-ins that took place on Pendleton Street and East Forest Avenue in central Columbia two hours apart. In each case, witnesses reported a man trying to break into a home. In the Forest Avenue incident, a man shot into a home, wounding a woman.

The man made sexual advances toward her before leaving the home and firing the shot, police said at a news conference Tuesday. Police asked the public for help in capturing the assailant.

Spence was charged Wednesday in connection with the Forest Avenue incident. According to a probable cause statement, the victim had previous contact with Spence when he gave her a ride but she did not initially know his name.

The probable cause statement says witnesses saw Spence in the area of the break-in in a gray sedan. The car was parked in front of the address of a person Spence was dating, witnesses allegedly told police.

Police say the victim in the Forest Avenue incident identified Spence in a photo lineup.

Spence has a prior conviction for a violent crime.

"Spence has a prior conviction for forcible rape causing injury with a weapon from an incident that occurred in 2000. He is currently listed as a registered sex offender," said Lieutenant Matt Stephens with the criminal investigations unit.

Spence has been out of prison since 2018. Bill Tackett, a former prosecutor, said it is not uncommon for sex offenders to reoffend.

"As prosecutors what we do is, you try to build a pedigree. You know, 95 percent of criminal are not going to re-offend, but the ones who are, you try to build that pedigree so that you can enhance the punishment each time," Tackett said.

He said because of Spence's prior felony charge, he will likely get more time if he is found guilty. Prosecutors typically add on years to a sentence.

If convicted, Spence will have to serve 85% of his sentence.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


1 Comment

  1. IF Convicted he will serve 85% of his sentence, why don’t we just give real sentences, instead of %’s of a time period, minus good behavior credits.

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