Man pleads guilty to reduced charge in shooting

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Nico Savidge
Friday, August 30, 2013

JANESVILLE—A Janesville man charged with attempted murder in the February shooting of his friend pleaded guilty to a reduced charge at a hearing Friday afternoon in Rock County Court.

DeAdrick J. Vance, 34, shot Michael Hooker in the neck inside Vance's home in the 2800 block Afton Road on Feb. 1, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said the shooting was intentional—prompted by an unpaid debt—and charged Vance with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Defense attorney Josh Klaff argued Vance's gun had gone of accidentally.

After they responded to the shooting and arrested Vance, Janesville police found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his home, according to a criminal complaint. That prompted prosecutors to add three more drug-related charges to the case, court records show.

At Friday's hearing, Vance pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with a dangerous weapon, and one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver .

Two other drug charges—maintaining a drug trafficking place and possession of drug paraphernalia—were dropped.

Pleading to the lesser charge reduces the amount of time in prison Vance could face at a sentencing hearing Oct. 31.

The original counts carried a maximum sentence of 67 years in prison, while the two he pleaded guilty to Friday have a maximum of 21 years.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors will not argue for more than 16½ years in prison.

Hooker and another man told police they had gone to Vance's home after work the day of the shooting to repay Vance $85 that Hooker owed him, according to a criminal complaint.

When Hooker apologized and said it wouldn't happen again Vance said he knew it wouldn't, then grabbed his Browning .380 handgun and shot Hooker in the neck, authorities said.

Vance told police he did not mean to shoot Hooker, saying he picked up the gun and it went off unintentionally, according to the complaint.

Friday's plea averts a trial that was scheduled to start in September.

Vance appeared at the hearing in custody, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled.

His parents, wife and two teenage children watched from the courtroom gallery, and looked down as he answered “guilty” when Judge Richard Werner asked how he pleaded to each charge.

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