A Hutchinson man was convicted Monday of reckless second-degree murder in the June 2, 2012, shooting death of Jolie Crosby in her east Wichita home.
Ronald Harner will face a minimum of more than nine years in prison when he is sentenced July 31 by District Judge Joseph Bribiesca. Harner, 48, who has been held in the Sedgwick County Jail since the day of the shooting, bowed his head and shook it quietly after the verdict was read.
Prosecutors contended during his trial that Harner intentionally shot Crosby or at least was reckless in handling a revolver after spending much of the night drinking beer. Harner had a concealed-carry permit, they said, and knew his way around firearms.
Harner did not testify at the trial but gave police two statements saying that the shooting was an accident. In both, he said he opened the chamber on the five-shot revolver, pushed a plunger that ejects the bullets, then closed the cylinder just before the gun discharged. Police said it was impossible for any bullets to remain in the chamber after the ejector is pressed.
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The shooting occurred as Harner and Crosby were sitting on a living room couch in Crosby’s home in the 8400 block of East Greenbriar Court. Police said Harner had been arrested in Reno County for DUI on the night of the shooting and continued to drink beer at Crosby’s home after he was released from jail.
A pathologist said residue on Crosby’s face showed that the gun was within 2 to 3 feet of her head when the bullet was fired into her right temple.
Before beginning its deliberations, the jury was asked to consider three classes of crime: voluntary manslaughter, which carries a minimum sentence of 55 months in prison; reckless second-degree murder, which carries a minimum of 109 months; and intentional second-degree murder, which carries a minimum of 147 months.
Reckless second-degree murder is an unintentional killing that is done “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”