LIMA — Gavin Lauck, the trigger-man in the shooting death almost a year ago of Damere Oliphant outside a Shawnee Township apartment, apologized to the family of his victim Monday before being sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for murder.
The 20-year-old Lima man accepted a deal from prosecutors last month that called for him to plead guilty to the murder charge in exchange for the state’s dismissal of additional charges of involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping and trafficking in drugs. At that time, Lauck learned of the sentence he would receive, which Judge Jeffrey Reed said is mandatory under Ohio law.
Lauck was sentenced Monday to 15 years to life in prison on the murder charge, with an additional mandatory three years for the use of a firearm during the commission of the crime.
He is one of three Lima men indicted by a grand jury last year in connection with Oliphant’s death and the second to be sentenced.
Collin Dysert, 20, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his participation in the drug deal that ended in Oliphant’s death outside an apartment on Cam Court.
The third man charged, 20-year-old Dalton Duncan, accepted a deal from prosecutors earlier this month and pleaded guilty to kidnapping, a first-degree felony. He will spend at least a year in prison for a firearms specification and could spend another three to 11 years in prison on the kidnapping charge when he is sentenced next month.
Lauck was described by police, prosecutors and at least one co-defendant as the man who pulled the trigger of an AK-47 rifle used to kill Oliphant on March 27, 2017.
“I want to tell you how truly sorry I am,” Lauck said to Oliphant’s family during Monday’s sentencing hearing. “I never intended to kill Mr. Oliphant.”
Lauck, who admitted he was under the influence of cocaine and marijuana at the time of the shooting, said he fired a shot from the rifle into the ground with the intent of simply intimidating Oliphant during what was described as a “drug deal gone bad.” But Lauck said his unfamiliarity with firearms then came into play.
After the first shot struck the ground, “the recoil of the rifle caused me to fire a second shot” which was the one that ended Oliphant’s life, Lauck said.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Sturgill called the shooting a “terribly unfortunate situation.”
“A life was lost in our community over drugs,” Sturgill said. “There’s nothing I can say that makes it better for the Oliphant family.”
Lauck is the second young Lima man in as many weeks to be handed a life prison sentence. Cory Jackson was sentenced last week to 30 years to life in prison for the 2016 shooting death of Amari Gooding outside a downtown Lima bar.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.