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Man gets jail time, probation in friend's shooting death

An 18-year-old Itasca County man will serve a year in jail and 15 years of supervised probation for his role in the accidental shooting death of his friend last November.

An 18-year-old Itasca County man will serve a year in jail and 15 years of supervised probation for his role in the accidental shooting death of his friend last November.

Walter Everett Charwood, of Squaw Lake, was sentenced Wednesday in Ninth District Court in Grand Rapids.

He had previously pled guilty to felony first-degree manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Dallas James Graciano.

Charwood had previously reached a plea deal and the court imposed conditions consistent with recommendations of the prosecutor, said the Itasca County Attorney's Office in a news release. Charwood will also be prohibited from possessing firearms.

Graciano was found dead in Charwood's Squaw Lake home on Nov. 29. Charwood initially was arrested but was released on his own recognizance pending further investigation.

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According to a criminal complaint filed in January:

Itasca County Sheriff's Office investigators were dispatched to the Squaw Lake residence after Charwood called 911 to report that he had accidentally shot his friend. Graciano was found dead in Charwood's bedroom.

Investigators interviewed another friend who was present in the bedroom at the time of the shooting. The unidentified witness said the three of them were preparing to leave the residence when Charwood picked up a rifle and loaded some rounds into the chamber.

Charwood closed the chamber, flicked off the safety and turned toward Graciano when the gun discharged, the friend reported. The witness said Graciano fell to the ground, and Charwood ran outside, dropping the gun on the porch and calling 911.

In a follow-up interview, the friend told authorities that it was not out of the ordinary for Charwood to take the rifle outside and shoot, but he said he didn't typically load it in the house. He stated that he believed Charwood was trying to "be cool" by flicking the safety off and spinning.

Charwood also spoke with investigators, confirming that he had been playing video games with his friends and that they were preparing to go see Graciano's girlfriend. While leaving, Charwood said he decided to go out and shoot his gun.

The teen acknowledged that he picked up the firearm, loaded it and turned the safety off while turning in the room. Charwood said he was attempting to turn the safety back on when the weapon discharged, and Graciano fell to the floor.

Charwood told the investigators that he typically loads the gun outside the residence and that he was not sure why he decided to load it inside. He stated that the shooting was accidental and that he and Graciano were "best friends" and "like brothers."

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An autopsy found that Graciano died of a single gunshot wound to the upper torso. Investigators said there were no indications of alcohol or drug abuse being a factor in the shooting.

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