- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - An ex-convict from Texas who told a judge he has spent almost all his adult life behind bars was sentenced Tuesday to 10 to 25 years in Nevada state prison for opening fire with a handgun in a Greyhound bus terminal in downtown Las Vegas.

James Alvin Abney told Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair that he never aimed at anyone, and that as police arrived he put the barrel of the chrome .25-caliber pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He said the gun was empty.

Police quickly arrested Abney, and no one was injured. Some witnesses later described hiding in a broom closet until the shooting stopped.

The judge sentenced Abney, 64, to almost the maximum time he could receive for his guilty plea March 20 to attempted murder and discharging a weapon in the Dec. 5 shooting at the bus station next to the Plaza Hotel & Casino. The plea avoided trial on additional charges that could have put him in prison for the rest of his life.

Defense attorney Rafael Nones called the case a sad tale of desperation, and he said Abney had no intent to kill anyone.

Abney told the judge that he served the equivalent of 42 years in Texas prisons, where records show he was paroled in May 2010 from Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville after serving time for aggravated robbery from Dallas County and murder in Walker County.

He said he’s legally blind because of a degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa, and that he came to Las Vegas because he liked to gamble.

The shooting happened on a cold night, after Abney said a security guard repeatedly ushered him out of the bus station. Abney said he didn’t have a bus ticket but was willing to buy one. He couldn’t see well and feared he would be robbed or beaten on the dark streets, he said.

Abney said he refused to turn the gun over to a man from Oklahoma who intervened because he didn’t want the man to be shot by Las Vegas police.

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