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Wisconsin man could face wrongful death claim in shooting

Almost two years ago, a Wisconsin man was shot and killed by someone he considered a friend. Recently, that man was sentenced to three years in prison and five years of extended supervision after his release. The victim's family wanted more prison time for the man and may file a wrongful death claim against their loved one's friend.

The man pleaded no contest a charge of "homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon," even though he was originally charged with reckless homicide in the first-degree. The dangerous weapon that ended the life of his friend was the victim's own handgun. The man's attorney says the shooting was accidental and asked for a lighter sentence than he received.

According to reports, the two men had been drinking the day of the shooting, though the man's friend went home because he didn't feel well. Later, the accused man went to his friend's apartment where the shooting took place. He said he thought he emptied the revolver completely before threatening to pull the trigger if his friend would not go back out with him. The first time he pulled the trigger, no shot was fired. The second time, the gun fired and killed his friend.

The victim's family may be able to use proof of the man's conviction as evidence of his negligence in a wrongful death action. Nothing will ever make up for the loss of the victim, but successfully litigating a civil action could give the family a sense of peace they may not have gotten from the criminal justice system. Additionally, an award of the costs and damages allowed under Wisconsin law may help defray the expenses the family has incurred as a result of the untimely death of the victim.

Source: Rivertowns.net, "Velure sentenced to prison for shooting friend," Judy Wiff, March 1, 2013

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