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Little Rock 18-year-old sentenced to 30 years in '18 killing of uncle

by John Lynch | October 31, 2020 at 9:04 a.m.
A gavel and the scales of justice are shown in this photo.

A Little Rock teenager who told police he accidentally shot his uncle has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing the man.

D'Anthony Clee Bushong, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, reduced from first-degree murder, in exchange for the 30-year term imposed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright, sentencing papers filed Friday show.

Bushong fatally wounded 36-year-old Tobias Mathew Bushong in November 2018 at the family home on Sunflower Drive, about three weeks before his 17th birthday.

The 30-year sentence, the maximum for the Class A felony charge, was negotiated by senior deputy prosecutor Jeanna Sherrill and defense attorney Megan Wilson.

According to police testimony and court files, police called to the residence for the shooting found D'Anthony Bushong and his mother in front of the home. Earline Bell Bushong was in tears, saying that her son had just shot her brother. Arrested at the scene, D'Anthony Bushong has been jailed ever since.

The teen told detectives he had been in his room, watching internet videos and playing with a gun. He said he walked out of the room, gun in hand, thinking he was alone when he was surprised to find someone else in the house.

He said he pulled the trigger by accident and then hid the gun in a panic after realizing what he had done. Authorities never found the weapon but reported finding an Instagram video of Bushong playing with the gun that had been taken that same day.

Bushong denied harboring any resentment toward his uncle, although they had been in a fistfight about six months before the shooting. He also told police he wasn't mad at his mother, despite quarreling earlier in the day with her telling him she wished she had aborted him. Bushong said that was just the way they argued.

The teen's version of events did not match his mother's account. She told police she and her brother had just arrived home and that Tobias Bushong had walked into the residence ahead of her. She said she heard her brother yelling and then a gunshot. She walked in and found the man wounded.

Prosecutors said Bushong had spent two years in juvenile detention for bringing a gun to school when he was 13 and living in Camden. Released in April 2017, a July 2018 fight with his stepfather resulted in a juvenile domestic battery charge.

D'Anthony Bushong had been undergoing counseling at the time of the slaying in part due to post-traumatic stress disorder that was caused by him witnessing the accidental hanging of a playmate when Bushong was 5, therapist Therese Skinner testified previously.

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