Shallotte man sentenced to four months for involuntary manslaughter

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

A Shallotte man has been sentenced to four months in prison for the 2006 shooting death of 43-year-old Harry Robert Ponds.

Steven Woods, 30, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Monday in Brunswick County Superior Court. Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear sentenced Woods to 16-20 months, which was suspended for five years. Woods will serve four months in the department of corrections as a condition of his suspended sentence, assistant district attorney Lee Bollinger said.

According to Bollinger, Ponds died from a single gunshot wound to the upper abdomen from a 12-gauge shotgun.

Steven Woods and Ponds, along with Steven Woods’ estranged wife Stacey Woods, who was living with Ponds at the time, met at Shallotte District Park in the early morning hours of July 31, 2006, Bollinger said.

Steven Woods was stopped before meeting Stacey Woods and Ponds at the entrance of the park by a Shallotte Police officer who had Woods unload his shotgun.

Woods later re-loaded the gun, Bollinger said.

When all three arrived at the park, Stacey and Steven Woods began arguing, Bollinger explained. Stacey Woods testified she saw a shotgun or two in the center of Steven Woods’ truck, but said this wasn’t unusual for him.

“So, what happens next is, during this discussion, Harry Ponds leaves the passenger side door and walks around the front of the truck to the driver’s side door,” Bollinger explained.

“And, according to the defendant and his statement, he got out of the car and blows were exchanged,” he said.

Bollinger said Stacey Woods followed Ponds around the truck. When she got there, Ponds grabbed the barrel of the gun, which was pointed down and tugged on its barrel, Bollinger explained.

When Ponds pulled on the barrel, Steven Woods pulled on the other end and the gun went off.

“And the three of them stood there for a moment with shocked look on their faces wondering if anyone had been shot. A few seconds later, Ponds collapsed,” Bollinger said.

Steven and Stacey Woods both called 911 and both administered CPR, Bollinger said.

When emergency personnel arrived at the park, Ponds was dead.

Steven Woods has been out of jail on bond and on electronic house arrest while he awaited trial.

Bollinger said Steven Woods pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter because the shot was “an accidental discharge.”

While the gun’s discharge was ruled accidental, it was Steven Woods that introduced the gun into the affray, Bollinger explained.