A 15-year-old Idaho Falls boy has described in court how he killed his friend in a game of Russian Roulette.
Frank L. Dana has been charged as an adult with involuntary manslaughter in the Dec. 15 death of Shawn Uttich. He pleaded guilty Thursday as part of an agreement with the prosecution and described his memory of that night.
“I was in Shawn Uttich’s house and we were messing around with the gun,” Dana said.
Dana had stolen the .44-caliber revolver from a nearby house. Police said he and two other youths went to Uttich’s house to show him the weapon. Uttich had been sick that day and stayed home from school.
Dana said another youth put one bullet in the gun, checked to make sure it would not fire, then held it to his own head. After pulling the trigger, the youth handed the gun to Dana.
“I don’t know for sure, but I put it to my own head,” he said. “Then I pointed it at Shawn and pulled the trigger.”
But the gun didn’t fire the first time, Dana said. He said he intended to aim the gun again at his own head, but “the gun went off and shot Shawn.”
His account may explain some inconsistencies in witness statements to police. One youth said he heard two “dry-fires” before the fatal shot, and he felt the shooting was intentional. Another said he thought it was an accident. Dana said the shooting was accidental and passed a lie-detector test, police said.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a second charge of grand theft by possession of stolen property. They agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than two years in a juvenile detention center rather than an adult prison, followed by up to five years probation.
Public defender Gil Gardner said that despite Dana being “under a great deal of stress” over the last few days, he was competent to enter a guilty plea.
Dana tried to hang himself in jail Monday night, hours before he was originally scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday. He has been placed on anti-depressant medication. Sentencing was set for June 1.