Hutchinson man gets maximum sentence in woman’s 2012 shooting death

07/31/2013 10:12 AM

08/08/2014 10:18 AM

A Hutchinson man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years and three months in prison for the June 2, 2012, shooting death of Jolie Crosby in her east Wichita home.

Ronald Harner, 48, was convicted by a jury in June of reckless second-degree murder.

Wichita police said the shooting occurred as Harner and Crosby, 41, were sitting on a living room couch in Crosby’s home in the 8400 block of East Greenbriar Court, near 29th and Rock. 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.

Harner did not testify at the trial but gave police two statements saying that the shooting was an accident. 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.

A pathologist said residue on Crosby’s face showed that the gun was 2 to 3 feet away from her head when the bullet was fired into her right temple.

Four children – one of Harner’s and three of Crosby’s – were in the house at the time.

Reckless second-degree murder is an unintentional killing that is done “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Harner, whose criminal record includes a 1992 theft conviction and a 1995 disorderly conduct conviction, faced a sentence of 109 to 123 months in prison on the second-degree murder charge under Kansas sentencing guidelines.

Defense lawyer Daniel Lobdell of Kansas City, Mo., asked for the minimum, arguing that his client has been remorseful and cooperative with authorities.

Harner spoke briefly during the hearing.

“I’d just like to say I’m sorry for the pain I caused to the families, to the kids,” he said.

Assistant District Attorney Donna Longsworth asked for the maximum sentence.

“This was no accident,” she said. “This was depraved indifference. He pointed a gun at another human being and pulled that trigger. That is extreme indifference to human life.”

District Judge Joseph Bribiesca said the fact that Harner was knowledgeable about gun safety made his behavior more troubling.

“Because of the egregious behavior at the time of the shooting, the (maximum) number is warranted,” he said.

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