Involuntary Manslaughter Plea in Russian Roulette Murder Case

A 20-year-old DC man accused of fatally shooting a close friend in a game of Russian Roulette has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the case.

Terrell Brent entered the plea last week. The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is 30 years in prison, but prison time is not mandatory for the charge. Brent could be sentenced under the Youth Act.

According to Brent’s proffer in the case, Lugus Fleming suggested to Brent that they play a game of Russian Roulette. Fleming appeared to empty the gun, then aimed it at a wall and fired. No bullet was shot. Fleming handed the gun to Brent, Brent pointed it at Fleming and fired. This time a bullet shot from the gun. It struck Fleming in the face, killing him.

At a preliminary hearing, Defense Attorney James Whitehead, argued that the initial charge— voluntary manslaughter— be reduced to involuntary manslaughter. He said that because the young men believed the gun to be empty, firing it did not add up to a “conscious disregard” for safety, which is a prerequisite for voluntary manslaughter.

“No one was aware of a risk from shooting what they thought was an empty gun,” Whitehead said, adding that Brent and Fleming may have believed that the game of Russian Roulette was played with an empty gun.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 20.

Plea documents are below.

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