WALLA WALLA - A man has been sentenced to two years in prison for shooting and killing his camping partner in the Blue Mountains last September.
Robert L. Nelson was ordered Monday afternoon to serve the midpoint of the standard-range penalty of 21-27 months he faced. He pleaded guilty Aug. 3 to second-degree manslaughter, which accused him of causing the death of Kenneth L. Brooks of Kennewick with criminal negligence.
Officials said Nelson, 56, of 2815 E. Melrose St., No. 233, shot Brooks Sept. 13 while the two were intoxicated at a makeshift campsite about 20 miles east of Walla Walla.
Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht imposed the sentence after hearing from an apologetic Nelson, followed by a tearful statement from Brooks’ wife, Michelle Brooks, who denounced Nelson for taking her husband’s life.
Schacht declined to go along with a prosecution recommendation of the low end of the standard range, saying the feelings of Brooks’ family members can’t be ignored. However, he determined the high end of the range isn’t appropriate, either, because Nelson has no criminal history.
Nelson’s attorney, William McCool, asked unsuccessfully for an exceptionally low sentence of a year-and-a-day in prison. McCool argued that because
Brooks encouraged Nelson to take the pistol on the camping trip, he was a willing participant in his death.
Schacht placed Nelson on 18-36 months of community custody, a form of probation, when he’s released.