For the first time a Garvin County teenager has spoken out about what he calls his tragic mistake that resulted in the 2016 shooting death of his uncle and has haunted him ever since.
Bladen Wright was 15 years old when he fired the shotgun blast from behind that claimed the life of 23-year-old Allen Counts on the family property in Hennepin back on Dec. 21, 2016.
A murder charge has since been reduced to first-degree manslaughter as Wright has pleaded no contest with no plea deal in advance.
Now 18 years old, Wright took the stand this week in a Pauls Valley courtroom to publicly offer some of this thoughts before being formally sentenced to a few more years behind bars.
“I miss Alan,” Wright said from the witness stand Monday. “He was a father to me. Alan's everything to me.
“I'm sorry. I really am. I wish I could take it all back. I want to fix what I did. I really want him back.
“I hope you all forgive me. What I did was foolish. I was doing something I shouldn't have been doing. I'm really sorry.
“It haunts me. Every day it goes through my mind. I can't get it out of my mind.”
Wright was quick to take responsibility for his actions, which he said were meant to be playful as he retrieved a shotgun after Counts had fired a BB gun at his feet inside a shop building.
“I accept what I did. I know it was wrong. I shouldn't have been playing around like that. I was being childish. I was 15 years old and I took it too far,” he said.
“I didn't know there was a bullet in it. I really didn't. I didn't trust my instincts and I should have.”
The teen admitted to being “irritated” with Counts but didn't mean to harm him as he came up from behind and from a few feet away fired the weapon.
He also acknowledged taking part in hiding the shotgun afterwards and trying to cover up his part in the shooting by lying to authorities.
“We did come up with a story. We should have said the truth.”
Also taking the stand during Monday's sentencing hearing was Tracy Spurgeon, a mental health counselor who's worked with Wright over the past 2 ½ years during his incarceration in a juvenile facility in Norman.
“He was as confused and scared as any juvenile I've ever seen,” she said about Wright's initial arrival at the facility. “He was physically shaking.”
Since that time Spurgeon says Wright has worked to earn his high school diploma and been a model inmate with no incidents reported in all his time there.
“He has demonstrated when he gets a plan he will do what he needs to do to complete that plan. He has something to offer society sooner rather than later.”
During brief arguments Garvin County Assistant District Attorney Corey Miner asked for Wright to be given a life term with all but the first 25 years suspended.
“Every human life has value,” Miner said.
““This court has to place a numerical figure on the value of a life. The facts of this crime warrant a stiff sentence.
Defense attorney Billy Vandever said the death of Counts was tragic but it was the result of a mistake not an intentional act.
“This isn't an act of a predator,” Vandever said. “It was the actions of an immature 15-year-old, a kid, a child. We've got to look at this through the eye of a 15-year-old.
“He was acting like a 15-year-old, an immature kid, playing with a firearm and a bad thing happened.”
A few minutes later District Judge Leah Edwards announced Wright is sentenced to a 10-year prison term with an additional five years suspended.
The teen was given credit for time already served, which on Monday totaled 908 days of incarceration.
“There's a handful of cases that stand out. There is no doubt this is one of those cases,” Edwards said.