Twenty-year-old shooting suspect Michael Juan Smith will claim he acted in self-defense when he fired the bullet that paralyzed an 18-year-old University of South Carolina student.

Smith’s attorneys may even invoke the Palmetto State’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which has been sidestepped by the state’s highest court.

Smith was arrested last weekend after a stray bullet fired in the aftermath of a dispute lodged into the spine of 18-year-old Martha Childress – who was waiting for a taxi in the increasingly dangerous Five Points region of downtown Columbia, S.C.

Childress remains paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.

A convicted felon, Smith was on parole at the time of the incident – part of a disturbing pattern of judicial lenience toward violent offenders in South Carolina (while cops and courts have turned arresting college kids for public drunkenness into a cottage industry). He stands accused of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent felony, unlawful carrying of a firearm, and possession of a stolen firearm.