A former Western Kentucky University student serving a four-year sentence in a deadly shooting was granted shock probation Monday after spending 125 days in jail.
Peter Gall, 22, received shock probation, a form of early release available to first-time offenders convicted of certain low-level felonies, at a hearing in Warren Circuit Court.
Gall pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the death of Alex Davis, 21, who was shot Sept. 3, 2017, at a house on Kenton Street.
Prior testimony and court records showed Gall and Davis, also a WKU student, were engaging in horseplay when Gall retrieved a shotgun from his room. The gun discharged, hitting Davis in the right hip area at point-blank range.
Gall was charged initially with second-degree manslaughter, but he accepted a plea agreement to the lesser charge of reckless homicide and was sentenced in February to four years in prison.
When he pleaded guilty, Gall admitted he was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Gall and his attorney, Alan Simpson, have said the shooting was an accident.
Warren Circuit Judge John Grise placed Gall on supervised probation for five years.
He urged Gall to “earn the chance” to redeem himself while noting that Gall “faced and accepted responsibility” for his actions.
“This is one of the more, if not the most, tragic cases that this court has been presented with,” Grise said when announcing his ruling. “Peter and Alex were close friends. The life of one of them has been tragically lost forever due to poor judgment, immaturity and alcohol. Perhaps it’s best not to compound the tragedy further and throw the other life away, too.”
A motion for shock probation must be filed 30 to 180 days after a defendant is sentenced.
Gall gave a short statement at his hearing in which he talked about adhering to a strict routine while incarcerated, taking classes and working in the Warren County Regional Jail kitchen.
Gall said he would work at his father’s contracting company if he were to be released.
“The rest of my life will be for Alex,” Gall said.
Gall’s girlfriend, mother and sister each testified on his behalf as well.
Simpson said Gall was a good candidate for shock probation because of his lack of a prior criminal history, his support system and his acceptance of criminal responsibility.
“I don’t think there’s been any suggestion that Peter Gall intended to kill his best friend,” Simpson said in court. “This young man is forever going to be in a prison of his own mind for what happened the night of Sept. 3, 2017.”
Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron opposed shock probation, arguing that it would unduly depreciate the serious nature of the crime.
Kenny Davis, Alex Davis’ father, spoke in court about the anguish the family has felt after the death of his son.
“We lost our son, and nothing is going to change that,” Davis said while standing beside his wife, Erika Davis. “We can’t even talk to each other about the incident without ending up in tears.”
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