Girl confronts teen who almost killed her

Charles Dexter Underwood Jr. in court. (Nicole Carr)
February 13, 2013 8:03:53 PM PST
A Cumberland County teen entered a Fayetteville courtroom Wednesday afternoon and entered a guilty plea to charges he shot a student at Cape Fear High School in October 2011.

Charles Dexter Underwood Jr. - now 17- was 15 at the time of the shooting. He was charged as an adult despite his age with attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, firing a gun on school property, and possession of a gun on school property.

The incident left Catilyn Abercrombie - who was also 15 at the time - with a bullet in her neck that nearly killed her. The girl spent weeks in the hospital, and has had to travel back and forth to Duke Hospital for continued treatment. She's undergone several surgeries to repair her esophagus.

Investigators said Underwood and Ta'von Malik McLaurin fired a .22 caliber rifle at the school - apparently in an attempt to hit somebody else.

In court Wednesday, prosecutors laid out their case against Underwood.

They said surveillance footage showed him carrying the rifle inside the school. It was later recovered inside the building and a shell casing was discovered in a breezeway.

In a statement to detectives, Underwood said he brought the gun to school to seek revenge against someone who jumped his cousin the weekend before.

In court Wednesday, Underwood apologized to his victim.

"I'm sorry for all the pain and suffering I put you through," he said.

The courtroom was quiet, as Abercrombie slowly stood up, tried to hold back tears and faced Underwood.

"I forgive you," said Abercrombie. "I honestly do."

The judge sentenced Underwood to 12 to 15 years, which shocked Underwood's father. However, the fact that Underwood won't spend his life behind bars is exactly what Abercrombie wanted.

"I don't want you to spend most of your life in prison but I really do believe you need to go not because I want payback for that, but because hopefully it can change you," she said.

It was also a hope her mother also expressed when she told Underwood she also forgives him.

"I want you to know that I forgive you," said Brenda Abercrombie

In the end, Catilyn only had one thing to ask of the person charged with shooting her.

"I just want to say please, please change your life around, please, please," she said.

McLaurin, now 19, is charged with aiding and abetting Underwood. His next court date is April 10.

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