A U.S. Marine who accidentally shot a woman in the head at a party while he was in Spokane on leave has been dishonorably discharged and will spend more than two years in prison.
Chad W. Pratt, 20, was sentenced Wednesday to 27 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter for shooting Ciara R. Hardin, 20, during a party Dec. 26. Hardin died two days later.
“This was an act of complete and total criminal stupidity at the very least,” Judge Sam Cozza said.
The night of the shooting, Pratt attended a party on the 1300 block of East Newark Avenue. He had been drinking and was in the kitchen showing a friend a loaded handgun when he fired the gun.
Pratt, who served a combat tour in Afghanistan, has been dishonorably discharged from the military because of his role in the shooting death, said his attorney, Rob Cossey.
Hardin’s family and friends told the judge that the tragedy has changed them forever.
Her father, Bob Hardin, said the weeks since his daughter’s death have been the worst of his life.
When people ask how he’s doing, “I say, ‘OK,’ because I don’t want them to know how broken I am,” he said. He told the courtroom that Pratt acted like a child showing off a new toy and that he “played Russian roulette” with everyone at that party, even though he was trained with weapons by the military and knew better.
“People say he won’t forget, but I know better,” Hardin said. He said Pratt will get out of prison, fall in love and watch his children grow up. “I don’t get to have those things, because he killed my daughter,” he said.
Pratt stood to speak to the judge but did not face the victim’s family.
“Nothing I can say will express how sorry I am,” Pratt told the judge. “Every day I wish I could trade places with her.”
Cozza emphasized the dangers of mixing weapons with using alcohol and other substances.
“It went against everything you learned as a member of the military,” Cozza said.
Along with the prison sentence, Pratt was ordered to have a substance abuse evaluation and pay restitution.