A Texas man will not see jail time for the accidental shooting that paralyzed one teenager and left another without a kidney, despite a plea from one of the victims' mothers.
The McAllen Monitor reported on Monday that 38-year-old Dustin Wesley Cook will instead serve three years' supervised release in connection with the December 2011 shooting of Edson Amaro and Nicholas Tijerina.
State District Court Judge Bobby Flores ruled that, despite the evidence showing Cook to be guilty of criminal negligence, he would not sentence him to jail time. Prosecutors allowed Cook to plead no contest to the charge, which normally carries a penalty of 180 days to two years in jail.
Tijerina's mother, Donna Tijerina, asked Flores to send Cook to jail, pointing out that her son is now paralyzed on account of Cook's actions. Cook hit the two teens by accident while target shooting in a field behind Harwell Middle School. Amaro lost a kidney as a result of his injuries, as well as suffering other organ damage.
"I hope to God you don't give him a slap on the wrist," she was quoted as saying. "When I left here I had no intention of coming back because I could not imagine going to Walmart and running into him and trying to explain to my son how he is free. I hope he gets prison so that he understands a little bit of what my son goes through every day."
Cook has denied that his actions were negligent, while expressing remorse toward the victims and their families in court on Monday.
"I've spent the last two years praying for you to recover, as well as Edson," he told Nicko Tijerina. "I understand your anger and your frustration and I read about a year ago in the newspaper where you had mentioned [not] reaching out. I tried since day one, but I couldn’t because of the case."
Both victims' families have civil lawsuits pending against Cook.
[Image: "Single Rifle Bullet On Paper Target For Shooting Practice" via Shutterstock]
[h/t The Houston Chronicle]