Apple Valley man sentenced for fatally shooting friend
An Apple Valley man was sentenced today to 90 days in jail and 10 years probation for fatally shooting a friend with a gun he thought was unloaded.
Derrick Wallace Dahl, 23, accidentally shot 22-year-old Benjamin Allen Hanson in the head on July 23, 2011, at a home on East Crystal Lake Road in Burnsville.
Wallace, Dahl and a third man who lives at the home were handling firearms kept there when Dahl pointed a .45-caliber handgun at Hanson and fired. He admitted to police he’d pulled the trigger but said he didn’t know the gun had been reloaded after being emptied.
Dahl told police it was the first time he’d handled a gun, the criminal complaint said.
“He said that all three of them had earlier been pointing the empty guns at each other, just playing around,” the criminal complaint said.
Dahl, who pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in May, was originally charged with second-degree manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm in a municipality, intentionally pointing a gun at another and recklessly handling a gun.
It was expected Dahl would avoid prison time under his plea agreement with the Dakota County attorney’s office.
Sentencing guidelines called for 48 months prison, but the prosecution agreed to stay the prison term, County Attorney James Backstrom said at the time of the plea agreement.
“I agreed to the downward departure because this was an unintentional act of negligence,” Backstrom said. “It think it’s reflective of the significant danger associated with mishandling firearms. But it was not an intentional act on Mr. Dahl’s part.”