A Mississippi man charged with shooting and killing another man during a June graduation party was sentenced Monday to serve one to 15 years in prison.
Gregory McGee, 25, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree murder last month as part of a plea bargain with the Salt Lake County attorney's office.McGee was charged with shooting 19-year-old Isileli Latu once in the back during a June 7 graduation party at 176 N. Redwood Road. Salt Lake police said Latu and a group of others apparently crashed the "peaceful" party, where about 125 people had gathered to celebrate graduation from East and West high schools.
During a scuffle between Latu, McGee and others, McGee pulled out a gun and fired a shot into the air, according to court documents. After the shot, witnesses said Latu and others ran away from McGee. McGee chased Latu for some distance and then shot him in the back at close range.
A doctor said the bullet entered Latu's back and then entered his lung and the stem of his brain. McGee said he shot Latu after Latu struck him, court documents state.
McGee was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder, but charges were upgraded to second-degree murder after Latu died when family members decided to take him off life-support equipment.
Prosecutor Greg Skordas said the charges were upgraded with the provision that an offer would be left open allowing McGee to plead guilty to either manslaughter or attempted murder. Latu's family members were consulted before allowing McGee to plead to the lesser charge.
Third District Judge Dennis Frederick said he was impressed with McGee's candor and his contrite attitude for what he had done.
"(McGee) basically confessed and said he'd take his lumps," Skordas said. "He's basically a first-time offender."
McGee requested that he serve his sentence in a Mississippi prison because of concerns for his safety. Skordas said friends of Latu are currently serving sentences at the Utah State Prison.