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Last updated on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
(BLOOMINGTON) - 35-year-old Ernie Lee Wright, who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing his cousin Brian Gardner was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison Tuesday morning.
Wright, shot his cousin, 33-year-old Gardner, at his 1912 South Rogers St. home during a night of roughhousing and partying on Jan. 6, 2011.
Police say at some point, Gardner handed a loaded .357-caliber revolver to Wright, who then held the gun to his cousin's head and pulled the trigger.
In August, Wright after being offered a plea agreement, pleaded guilty a Class B felony charge of voluntary manslaughter.
On Tuesday morning Judge Marc Kellams sentenced Wright to 20 years in prison with eight of those years suspended.
During the sentencing hearing, Brian Gardner's mother, Terrie, took the stand to show Judge Kellams a folder filled with Brian's school honor roll awards and certificates. Her son taught for a time in Las Vegas and volunteered as a teacher at a reservation. Terrie shared with the court hand-written notes for Gardner's students.
Terrie then told Wright she still loved him.
Wright, sobbing, apologized several times to his family and took responsibility for killing his cousin.
Once he is released from prison, Wright will serve five years of supervised probation and will be listed on Indiana's violent offender registry.
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