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News / Clark County News

Battle Ground man gets 7½ years in June 2021 shooting death over loud car noises

Victim had been shot six times in confrontation

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: April 18, 2023, 2:48pm

A Battle Ground man was sentenced Tuesday to 7½ years in prison for fatally shooting a man in June 2021 after confronting him over loud car noises in his neighborhood.

Presley Daniel Mileck, 52, pleaded guilty last month in Clark County Superior Court to first-degree manslaughter. He was originally charged with first-degree murder.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino said the victim, 39-year-old Timothy A. Thomas, was shot six times.

He said Thomas often worked on cars at his parents’ house, east of Battle Ground. Mileck and his wife had moved to the 25500 block of Northeast Alder Falls Road about six months prior, he said. The prosecutor said in a call to 911, Mileck said that if the sheriff’s office wasn’t going to go over there do anything about the noise, then he would.

Mileck’s wife called 911 shortly after 2:30 p.m. June 15, 2021, to report that their neighbor was driving up and down their rural street and revving his vehicle’s engine. Mileck reportedly left in the family car to go confront him. She then told dispatchers she heard her husband yelling at the neighbor and later heard several gunshots. Her husband returned home “distraught and inconsolable,” she said, with a gun in his hand, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded at about 2:45 p.m. Deputies who went to the neighbor’s house found Thomas lying unresponsive on the ground. Mileck agreed to surrender to deputies and was arrested, the affidavit states.

Mileck’s defense attorney, Shon Bogar, said Mileck suffered from mental health problems and couldn’t get treatment at the time because facilities were overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gasperino said the state doesn’t argue that Mileck had mental health problems, and the prosecutor noted a former neighbor said he’d moved out of a previous neighborhood he shared with Mileck for fear Mileck would harm him or his family.

He said the plea deal came after forensic evidence showed Thomas’ DNA on the slide and/or the grip of Mileck’s gun and on the inside of Mileck’s driver’s-side door handle, which was torn off. It also showed Thomas had used methamphetamine, and he said defense expert witnesses likely would have testified the drug could’ve made Thomas act aggressively.

The prosecutor said he would’ve argued at trial that Thomas was defending himself from Mileck. But, Gasperino said, Mileck is the only surviving person who knows what happened, and the possibility a jury could find that Mileck shot in self-defense led to the negotiated plea.

Mileck’s standard sentencing range was 6½ to 8½ years. The prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Mileck to the top of the range.

“Regardless of what your honor sentences the defendant to within that range, it’s going to be less than 10 years for taking the life of an individual in a reckless fashion with a firearm, up on their property when essentially all they were doing was fixing cars and revving the engines to test them out,” Gasperino said.

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Several members of Thomas’ family asked Judge Nancy Retsinas to impose the maximum sentence, and they recounted fond memories of Thomas. Two of Thomas’ brothers wiped away tears during their victim impact statements.

Bogar said Mileck pleaded guilty because he wanted to accept responsibility and offer the family some closure. Bogar asked the judge to sentence him to the bottom of the range.

Mileck apologized to Thomas’ family and asked for their forgiveness. He also apologized to the court and his own family and friends. He said he wants to undergo mental health treatment while in prison.

Retsinas said she was struck by the family’s statements before she ordered the midrange sentence. She also ordered Mileck undergo anger control treatment, in addition to mental health treatment.