Authorities are not sure of exactly what was happening in Brandon White’s trailer in Collins on July 12, or how White’s best friend, Anthony E. Chipman, came to be fatally shot.
But at his sentencing for second-degree manslaughter Tuesday in State Supreme Court, White described the situation for the judge as “just a really messed-up day.”
Justice John L. Michalski handed down an indeterminate sentence of three to nine years in prison for the crime, recklessly causing the death of another, which is a Class C nonviolent felony.
White, 32, had waived indictment and pleaded guilty on Aug. 25 to firing a pellet gun at Chipman, 46, of Gowanda at close range during a long day of drinking together. The projectile penetrated Chipman’s chest and caused injuries that turned out to be fatal.
Defense attorney Emily Trott asked the judge to consider a sentence of five years or less, considering “the sort of unique facts and circumstances which led to this.”
Trott outlined for the court White’s long history of substance abuse and psychological disorders, “which are not treated by the drugs he chooses to take.”
She said White may have consumed between 30 to 40 beers with Chipman on the day of the shooting. The victim’s blood alcohol content reportedly was over 0.30 when he died.
Trott said White was adamant about pleading guilty and told the court that he had “severe regrets” because Chipman was "one of his closest friends in the entire world.”
Several people familiar with the case said the pair apparently considered themselves to be something of a “club,” and enjoyed daring one another to perform silly or extreme acts. They said it was possible that the behavior could have led to the pellet gun shooting.
In court, Trott pointed out that White had no idea that he had mortally wounded Chipman after he fired the gun.
“I feel really bad about what happened,” White said when given a chance to speak. “It was just a really messed-up day and it shouldn’t have happened.”
“Obviously,” the judge responded.
Michalski then referred to a letter he received from Chipman’s sister about White’s actions, which took her brother away from them forever, and pronounced his sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Michael D. Smith prosecuted the case.