Man pleads guilty to shooting Durham 10-year-old girl asleep in bed

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A man charged with firing a bullet that struck a 10-year-old Durham girl as she slept pleaded guilty Thursday morning.

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James Scott Berish, 23, of Durham, admitted guilty to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and possession of a stolen firearm after discharging a gun in his apartment in the 4200 block of Garrett Road in May of 2017.

The bullet he fired traveled to the apartment below, hitting Daisy Medina in the abdomen.

READ MORE: Police still investigating after 10-year-old shot while sleeping in Durham apartment

District Attorney Roger Echols said part of Bernish's punishment will be handled through a "groundbreaking Restorative Justice process."

He faced up to 127 months in prison, but his plea deal allows him to serve supervised probation. He must also pay $1,380, speak at gun safety and awareness programs, and provide a gift of art supplies to the Daisy.

As the prosecution and defense delivered their closing statements, the people in the courtroom erupted into cheer as Assistant DA Kendra Montgomery said Berish did the right thing by taking responsibility for his actions.

"Mr. Berish has taken responsibility in a way that is very rare. He is a man that I have been proud to hug, to listen to, to share a meal with, and I would like to say that I am proud to know you, James."

WATCH: Courtroom cheers and prosecution delivers closing statement
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"After I found out it was a little girl involved I turned myself in," Berish said. "I'm a grown man first. I don't hurt kids."

READ MORE: Man accused of shooting Durham 10-year-old will enter plea as part of "groundbreaking" process

Prior to his plea, Berish read a letter of apology to Daisy and her family and asked them for forgiveness.

Family members were also given a chance to describe their emotions from the night of the shooting.

The DA's office said this case is the first violent felony to ever proceed through a formal restorative justice program pre-trial in North Carolina.
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