An 18-year-old Frederick man was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday as the friend he shot looked on during an emotional hearing in Frederick County Circuit Court.

Dylan Jesse Gray broke down in tears as he turned to the victim, who still has the bullet lodged in his chest. It will be removed in a future surgery.

"I'm so sorry," Gray said.

"Why, man?" the victim asked, wanting to know why Gray fired the shot into his upper chest.

"I made a careless mistake," Gray responded.

"I'll send you a letter," the victim said.

"I'm sorry," Gray said again.

And then the victim said, "It's OK."

Assistant State's Attorney Kirsten Brown said the case was "a sad situation all around." Gray and the victim, who was 16 at the time of the Dec. 19 shooting, were close friends and planned to hang out that afternoon.

According to police and prosecutors, Gray and some friends were playing video games at his home when the victim called to say he was coming over. When the 16-year-old arrived, he knocked on the front door. After no one came to the door, he knocked on the windows.

Gray told police he became annoyed with the 16-year-old. He grabbed a .32-caliber semi-automatic handgun from his bedroom and went to the front door, according to charging documents.

Gray believed the gun was not loaded and intended only to scare the friend, but instead fired a shot into his upper right chest, according to court records and testimony.

"I cocked it and aimed and pulled the trigger and all the sudden my ears were ringing and my friend has a bullet in him," Gray wrote in a statement contained in the documents. "I honestly can't believe I did this."

When police arrived, the victim told them he was shot down the street by a group of teens he didn't know. That story quickly fell apart as police found the shell casing near Gray's front door.

Another of Gray's friends, Cory Aaron Nowalk, brought the gun to Gray's home, and disposed of it after the shooting, prosecutors said.

In a juvenile court hearing, Nowalk pleaded "involved" to the crime of accessory after the fact. In juvenile proceedings, a person does not plead guilty or not guilty, but admits or denies involvement in an offense.

"These guys had absolutely no business whatsoever having this gun," Brown said Thursday, noting that photos of Gray posing with it were found on his cellphone.

Defense attorney Chad Weddle said Gray understood the enormity of the case and is grateful his friend didn't die.

Gray pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault.

Dwyer sentenced Gray to seven years in prison, with an additional 18-year suspended sentence. Dwyer recommended placement in a youthful offender treatment program.

After his release, Gray will have to serve three years of supervised probation. If he violates the terms of the probation he could be sent to prison for the 18-year suspended sentence.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

(5) comments

stevem90999

Seven years for what appears to be just an accidentally shooting?? By the accounts, there was no intention of shooting since the kid believed the gun to be unloaded. I've seen this same judge give people who gunned down victims in cold blood slightly less prison time than this!

runningaddict414

You're joking, right?! If I had a nickel for every lie told by a teen, I'd be richer than Buffett! The punk got annoyed at his "friend", grabbed a gun, and shot him." Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows you NEVER point a gun at something unless you fully intend to shoot it. This kid knew what he was doing, and deserves to be in jail. He's lucky he didn't KILL his "friend" or he'd be serving time for murder one.

holden_rex

Can you cite the murder cases in which Dwyer handed down less of a sentence?

I'm not finding any such examples. He handed down a life sentence to the Burger King killer, and William Sigler (who murdered that homeless man a few years ago) received 30-50 years. Dwyer sentenced Charles Eugene Hahn to life without parole for murdering his wife. And Erika Sifrit (one half of the Ocean City thrill-kill couple) was given life plus 25 years.

I'm sure I didn't find all the murder cases sentenced by Judge Dwyer, so please point out the cases where cold-blooded killers received less than seven years from him.

president8444

Prison , a lesson will be learned with his class mates out to get them on arrival at the zoo.

rbutt

Good! Hope he serves everyday of that 7 years and not a day less. Have fun turning 21 in jail loser.

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