A Carson City man was sentenced to probation for involuntary manslaughter Monday morning after he left his friend to die in the East Carson City desert in August, 2011.
Judge James Russell sentenced Kennith Johnson, 47, to a maximum of five years of probation with a suspended sentence of one year to a little less than three years. The recommended sentence was 90 days of jail time to be served on Johnson’s days off, which Russell decided against.
Johnson pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to involuntary manslaughter.
The chain of events that led to 46-year-old Mike Scott’s death started when the three roommates, Scott, Johnson and Anthony Kelich, went out to the East Carson City desert in August to go target shooting. The three drank while shooting and did so before, too, according to testimony during the preliminary hearing on Oct. 12.
Anthony Kelich, 61, was handling the .22-caliber rifle when it went off, shooting Scott in the face. Johnson jumped in the truck in which he’d driven Kelich and Scott into the canyon and drove away. Kelich stayed with Scott until about sunrise, when Scott finally died from his wound. Kelich then attempted to walk out of the canyon before he encountered two women who called police, according to testimony and court documents.
When Kelich was asked during the preliminary hearing what happened that night, he replied, “I shot my roommate. He died.”
Kelich pleaded guilty in November 2011 to involuntary manslaughter and illegally handling a firearm. Kelich, a felon, was not allowed to handle the firearm and is currently serving his sentence with the Nevada Department of Corrections.
Johnson allegedly drove around after he fled the scene and drank until he finally went to the sheriff’s office in the morning to report what had happened, his truck spattered with blood and the cell phones of both his roommates tucked inside.
“(Scott) was shot and lived through the night ... (Johnson) fled the scene,” Deputy District Attorney Nathan MacLellan said. “If he had not fled the scene or fled and gotten aid, (Scott) would have lived. He lived until sunrise. If he would have called 911, driven straight to a hospital, anyone who could have rendered aid, his friend would have lived.”
Defense Attorney Ben Walker said Scott’s death will always haunt Johnson.
“I know this tortures him because he thinks, ‘What if I had done something different?’” Walker said.
Walker asked the court to follow the recommendations but not follow the 90-days-in-jail suggestion.
“He’s a decent man,” Walker said.
Russell offered insight into his sentencing.
“Panic does a lot to people,” he said.