Man pleads guilty to fatally shooting friend with mishandled gun

Alexander Murray (Lancaster County District Attorney's Office)

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A Lancaster County man will serve up to 15 years in prison for pointing a loaded gun at a friend’s head and pulling the trigger, believing the safety was on.

Alexander Murray, 19, of East Earl, pleaded guilty Wednesday to third-degree murder for the April 9 shooting death of 22-year-old Timothy Demeritt. In exchange for the plea, Murray will serve 7½ to 15 years in prison.

The district attorney’s office said Murray and Demeritt were playing video games at a home in the 200 block of Orchard Road, in Brecknock Township. Demeritt began arguing with a third person and Murray, in an attempt to stop the argument, held Demeritt’s gun to Demeritt’s head and pulled the trigger, killing Demeritt instantly.

Murray eventually confessed to police, saying he knew Demeritt to keep his gun safety on. Prosecutors said there was nothing to indicate Murray and Demeritt had ill will toward one another or were involved in a confrontation.

Judge Merrill Spahn Jr. told Murray his behavior was reckless and showed “an extreme disregard for the value of human life.”

“With possession of guns comes an extreme responsibility,” Spahn told Murray. “You completely failed in that responsibility.”

Murray apologized to Demeritt’s family, who were not in court for the plea.

As part of the sentence, he must pay $14,935 in restitution for funeral costs and damage to the home.

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