A Vancouver man who fatally shot a friend while playing Russian roulette at an apartment in northeast Hazel Dell was sentenced Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court to six years in prison.
Defense attorney Louis Byrd Jr. told the court that his client, Korbin Andrew Bourn, and the victim, 22-year-old Dayton S. Miller, were willful participants in the deadly game.
“One squeeze of the trigger separated the individuals. It could have gone either way,” Byrd said.
He called the Vancouver man’s death “very tragic and needless.”
Bourn, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, and entered an “in re Barr” plea to tampering with a witness — meaning he pleaded guilty to the lesser related charge he didn’t commit to avoid conviction on a greater offense.
Appearing in custody via Zoom, Bourn told Miller’s loved ones, who were also on the line, that he would do anything to get Miller back. He said the two had known each other for years and that Miller was one of his best friends.
“I just want to say how sorry I am,” Bourn said through tears, later adding, “I’m so sorry for playing that stupid game.”
Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded about 1:50 a.m. March 16, 2020, to a shooting at Teal Pointe apartments, 10405 N.E. Ninth Ave. Upon arrival, they found Miller dead inside an apartment bedroom. Deputies noted a single gunshot wound to his forehead and a small-caliber firearm under his hands, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
A witness told detectives that Bourn and Miller had taken turns pointing the gun at each others’ heads. When Bourn held the gun to Miller’s head, the weapon fired, killing Miller, the affidavit says.
Bourn told investigators that both he and Miller had been drinking, and he believed the weapon was unloaded, the court document states.
Miller had held the gun to Bourn’s head, and Bourn heard a click, he said. He thought Miller had pulled the trigger. When Miller handed the gun to Bourn, he pointed it at Miller’s head and pulled the trigger. He said he didn’t expect the gun to fire, according to court records.
Bourn then placed the gun under Miller’s hand, he said, and instructed others present to say Miller shot himself. He admitted to being a convicted felon and was told he wasn’t allowed to handle firearms, the affidavit says.
During Tuesday’s hearing, a victim advocate read three statements written by Miller’s loved ones.
Miller’s then-girlfriend told the court that his death could have been avoided. She said the people who were present on the night of his death were not true friends.
“Dayton (Miller) was a better friend to them than they ever were to him, and I know they all would throw him under the bus to make it seem like they are blame free,” she wrote.
Miller’s aunt said the family suffers with “profound sadness,” and due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, has been left to grieve in isolation.
His grandmother, who raised him, said Miller suffered from anxiety and fetal alcohol syndrome, which affected his daily life.
“Dayton was a wonderful caring person,” she wrote, later adding, “The person that killed my grandson surely deserves more than the small amount of time he will be serving behind bars.”
In addition to Bourn’s prison sentence, which includes a three-year deadly weapon enhancement, he will serve three years of community custody.