Man sentenced after gun accident

A Whiteland man was sentenced to probation and required to take a gun safety course after an accidental shooting last year.

Donald Ethan Lawlis, 55, was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of criminal recklessness after a bench trial last month.

Johnson County Superior 3 Judge Lance Hamner sentenced Lawlis to a year on probation, required him to take a gun safety course through the NRA and put restrictions on where he can shoot, according to court records.

On Oct. 14, 2016, Lawlis had gone to his father’s property off State Road 144 to practice target shooting and teach his young son about gun safety.

A neighboring family on County Road 125W was outside at the time, and heard bullets whizzing by before resident Kevin Destrampe was shot in the knee. Other bullets were found lodged in the side of their home.

Investigators found the target Lawlis was shooting at did not have a backstop, and the direction he was shooting went straight to the neighboring home. Lawlis had told investigators he thought he was shooting across a field and didn’t think the rounds would travel as far as they did.

Lawlis was charged with misdemeanor criminal recklessness, which applies to a suspect who recklessly, knowingly or intentionally performs an act that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person, according to state law.

He was found guilty of the charge after a bench trial, which does not involve a jury.

Part of the sentence handed down by Hamner also states that Lawlis can possess guns as part of his gunsmith business and can shoot them only at a commercial gun range that is at least 5 miles away from the Destrampes’ property and is not allowed to shoot recreationally, according to court records.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.