Justin Dougan was fighting with a teenager over a girl. So he took his high-powered rifle and decided to hunt down the guy. But when he fired the rifle during a drive-by shooting, he shot and killed 17-year-old Spencer Crosthwait -- the wrong guy.
Dougan, 20, pleaded guilty today to charges of second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.
"Nearly all murders
are senseless and tragic, but this one is almost impossible to fathom,"
Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd said in a statement. "A
17-year-old boy is dead because two other teenagers were having a
dispute over a girl. It's hard to imagine what led this defendant to
hunt down someone with a high-powered rifle just because he was upset
about a teenage relationship."
Here's how prosecutors say the killing went down: On July 29, 2010, Crosthwait was sitting at a traffic light at a Parkville intersection when a vehicle driven by Stephen Ellis pulled up. Dougan then fired a shot from his Mossberg 30-30 caliber rifle into the vehicle. Crosthwait was hit; his passenger drove him to a Price Chopper parking lot, where a manager called 911. Crosthwait was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ellis and Dougan fled and ditched the gun somewhere in Kansas City, Kansas.
Prior to the killing, Crosthwait and another teenager had gone to Dougan's home. They had a dispute over a girl, and Dougan fired two shots from the rifle at the young man.
"Spencer Crosthwait's death is especially terrible because
he was not the defendant's intended victim," Zahnd said. "The defendant was hunting
down another young man that night, but, unfortunately, the bullet he
fired made no distinction between Spencer and his intended target."
Dougan is facing life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for May 12. Ellis is still facing charges of second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.