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A Hilton Head Island man who was shot by a state trooper during a November chase through greater Bluffton, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Tuesday after a Beaufort County jury found him guilty of possession of a stolen vehicle and failure to stop for blue lights.'
"(U.S. 278) ... is such a dangerous place; it's time to throw the book at people who abuse it," said Circuit Court Judge Jackson Gregory, shortly before giving Tyrone Robinson, 27, the maximum sentence.'
Robinson was arrested on Nov. 14 after the morning rush-hour chase. '
On Tuesday, the last day of the two-day trial, much of the testimony centered on what occurred at the end of the 20-minute chase, when Robinson's car, a stolen 2001 Ford Taurus, collided with a third-party vehicle on Buck Island Road near the entrance to Old Carolina Golf Course.'
Catching up to Robinson after the collision, Trooper First Class J.F. Clipse fired several shots. At least one hit Robinson's hand. '
An investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division concluded that Clipse fired the shots because he feared for his life. Clipse had said he saw Robinson's car accelerating toward him.'
Taking the stand Tuesday to testify in his own defense, Robinson said he did not drive his car away from the scene of the collision until Clipse fired into the car Robinson was driving.'
"I wasn't going to move until he started shooting," Robinson said.'
Robinson also said Clipse did not have his siren or blue lights on when the trooper approached. '
Regarding the stolen vehicle charge, Robinson testified he paid $50 to rent the car the night before the incident from a man who lived on Muddy Creek Road. '
According to court documents, the car is the property of Benny Bolden of Crosswinds Road.'
In closing arguments, Deputy Solicitor Steve Knight said Bolden had been out of town at the time of the incident and was unaware of the location of his car until he read about it in the newspaper. '
Knight also cited Robinson's lengthy criminal record, which he later said includes convictions on fleeing to evade, discharging a firearm, simple assault and battery and criminal domestic violence. '
Turning to the 12-person jury, Knight said: "The issue is: Do you believe a convicted felon? If you believe his story, set him loose."'
After deliberating for two hours, the jury acquitted Robinson of resisting arrest charges, but found him guilty of the two more serious charges. '
Robinson's 15-year sentence includes five years for failure to stop for blue lights and 10 years for possession of a stolen vehicle.'
The sentences, to be served one after another, will begin in three years, after Robinson finishes serving time for a previous conviction.