A Round Lake man pleaded guilty on Friday after he accidentally shot and killed his friend with a shotgun in March during a birthday celebration.
In court on Friday, Joey Gonzalez, 19, of the 300 block of Maple Lane in Round Lake, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for accidentally shooting and killing David Graham, 20, of Round Lake Park on March 13 just after midnight.
The Daily Herald said the plea deal was approved by Judge Charles Johnson and Gonzalez was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
Authorities said that Graham and Gonzalez were out celebrating Graham’s birthday with three other adults. They were driving around when they stopped the car near Monaville Road and West Old Monaville Road in Lake Villa. Graham and Gonzalez got out of the car and fired a sawed-off shotgun in celebration.
When they were getting back into the car, Gonzalez, who was in the back seat, accidentally shot Graham in the head while Graham was sitting in the driver’s seat.
They drove Graham to the Northwestern Medicine Emergency Center in Grayslake where he was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m., authorities said. The other people in the vehicle were not charged in the shooting.
“I just want to say I’m sorry this happened,” Gonzalez said in court according to the Daily Herald. “He was one of my best friends and one of the best kids I ever met.”
Denise Graham, David Graham’s mother, said to Gonzalez, “Joey, I never met you … you took my son from me. But, I have to try and forgive you because, if I don’t, I’ll never see my son again.”
According to the Daily Herald, Judge Johnson told Gonzalez in court, “You have to use this as a learning experience to make your life better in the future.”