Dominique Miller, who was 20 years old at the time of the murder, was already a convicted felon and was on probation for a drug charge when the shooting took place.
He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and two firearms charges last summer.
In the early morning hours of Aug. 8, 2007, a group of young people were gathered at a mobile home park in New Church. They had been there since early evening, testimony at the preliminary hearing showed. All were drinking and some were smoking marijuana.
Some of the men had brought guns to the gathering. One of those was the victim, Michael McKyer. Another was defendant Miller, witnesses said. McKyer had a firearm earlier that night but it was stolen from him — he thought Miller had taken the gun, testimony showed.
Another witness saw Miller put the clip on the gun. He said he heard shots, but thought McKyer had gotten away.
McKyer was taken to the Nelsonia Royal Farms to save time. By the time the ambulance arrived, he was no longer breathing, the witness said.
Miller was charged with first-degree murder, a charge that was reduced to murder in the second degree in a plea bargain with a prosecutor last July. In the terms of the agreement, his incarceration was not to exceed 25 years.
At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, defense attorney James Broccoletti called the killing, “a tremendous, terrible tragedy that should not have occurred,” and argued that Miller should serve a sentence at the low end of the guidelines, which he said were 13 to 22 years. At the preliminary hearing he told the court that Miller and the victim were cousins as well as friends.
He cited Miller’s mental deficiencies related to an earlier head injury.
“His mental status was no fault of his own,” he said.
Broccoletti said Muller had been hit by the slain man and “reacted in a way he should not have reacted."
“He had problems long before the accident occurred,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Agar. “Problems with fighting, with not following the rules in school.”
“The victim was shot seven times, once in the upper chest and the rest in the back while he was running away,” Agar said.
Agar spoke about young men and guns.
“This is something that has to be combated to bring order to the community,” Agar said. He said that the victims family asked him to “please let the court know we want a sentence commensurate with the damage he has done.”
“Neither family should be too critical of the other,” said Circuit Judge Glen A. Tyler before sentencing Miller.
“The event occurred at 1 a.m. among people who were drinking and partying and using substances that altered their minds.” He described the scene as “pretty bad circumstances all around.
Before being sentenced, Miller read aloud a statement apologizing for what he had done.