Russian roulette trial averted

An Ottawa County teen charged with killing his friend during a game of Russian roulette last spring no longer faces trial.
Becky Vargo
Oct 1, 2013

Richard Mack Usher, 19, of Tallmadge Township will instead be sentenced on Nov. 4.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Matwiejczyk said they were in court to address some motions in the case on Friday when Usher made the decision to accept a plea agreement, rather than go to trial. The trial was scheduled to begin later this month.

Brandon Kuiper, 16, died two days after the March 6 incident in the basement of the Tallmadge Township home Usher shares with his family. Police said the two were with a group of teenage boys playing with a .22-caliber handgun that night. Drugs and alcohol were involved.

Usher shot Kuiper in the face during the incident, police said. The younger boy was taken to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he died two days later.

Usher’s attorney, Kimberly Kotowski, declined to comment on the case, "due to confidentiality,” she said. During the court hearing, Kotowski said the plea was “being made as result of potential civil liability.”

The plea agreement calls for Usher to serve two years in prison on a felony firearm charge. Following that, he would serve at least one year and up to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter (death by weapon) charge. The six months he has already served in jail will apply toward that sentence.

Neighbors of the Leonard Road house where the shooting occurred said they were not surprised by the incident because the Usher boys were always shooting guns in the area.

“It’s been quiet since then," said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. “It’s sad that it came to that. It’s just too bad two lives are ruined.”

Kuiper’s mother declined to comment when contacted Monday afternoon at her home in the Tallmadge Meadows Mobile Home Park.

“I can’t talk right now,” she said before closing the door.

One of her neighbors, Kari VanDrunen, said she did not know the Kuipers, but she does know that bad things can happen when you mix alcohol, drugs and guns.

“I just don’t know what goes on in people's minds when they are drunk,” VanDrunen said. “When under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they are out of control. They really don’t know what they are doing.”

Members of Richard Usher’s family were at their home Monday afternoon, but they declined to comment about the case.

Usher remains in the Ottawa County Jail on a $350,000 bond.
 

Comments

papa bear

It's just bad parenting,if they were raised right this would not have happened

Lanivan

Yeah - that and a loaded .22 caliber handgun laying around

MR. WILLIAMS

It's those emotionally unstable Gun's again talking someone into using them unsafely. It's undeniably clear that this .22 cal. handgun had somehow slipped through the cracks and talked these children into playing innocent games with it. I have to question; why wasn't the gun charged?! How many of these mentally challenged guns are out there right now conning their way into innocent victims hands?

Wingmaster

Yup the gun just jumped right into this punks hands without him knowing it and fired after the magic chamber which the bullet was located in was found. I see absolutely nothing parental guidance could have changed here! Just fricken WOW!

Lanivan

Right. How silly to think the gun did the killing! Of course it was the lack of parental guidance that pulled the trigger and killed a teenager pointblank! And by the way, does it strike anyone that it's both quite stereotypical and a stretch to assume that the teens hanging out in the house with a loaded gun handy automatically translates into a lack of parental guidance and/or mental issues?

LessThanAmused

I feel sorry for the parents of people who think that way....bet they wish they could have "overs".

rukidding

Lani you can't shut the barn...Parental guidance for a 19 year old?

Reality is these kids were not brought up to respect a weapon nor taught the proper use of one. This was an accident waiting to happen for a long time from what I can tell; attempting to fix blame is useless. The kid, the gun, the parents, even the victim and his parents, they all share their portion of the burden in this incident.
We taught our children how to handle a weapon early on and when it was appropriate to do so. The young man that was killed should have up and left as soon as a gun appeared; hindsight right? Not so much really, every young person should know that as a minor if drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc. are part of a gathering then it is time to leave; OR ELSE!

Lanivan

I agree with all you write here. My 'tongue in cheek' comment, although written with sorrow for all concerned in this tragedy, was an attempt to highlight the fact that to center the blame on lack of parental guidance and/or mental issues as the central cause of the killing is incomplete.

In this particular case, what we had here was a group of teens, in the midst of teen angst, with a mix of guns, alcohol, and drugs, clearly unchaperoned then and for probably years prior. We don't know if any of them had training in responsible gun handling. Any one of them could have died that night from a drug or alcohol overdose, someone pulling a knife, or from a beating due to teen rage over losing a poker game.

But the takeaway for me was that previous articles in this paper have reported that there had been many incidents of gun shootings from that particular property. Clearly, this household was firmly in the sights of our gun culture, with an obsessive attraction to guns, playing with guns, worshiping guns as toys. They are not an outlier. Do some research ~ the US has the highest number of gun deaths in the world, by far.

rukidding

I understand that they are probably not that much different, in many ways than the average family. My point was they obviously were not taught the fundamentals, weapons 101, which is done in most homes.

We do have more gun deaths, we have more guns. This is not to say that if we had fewer guns we would have fewer deaths.

"Any one of them could have died that night from a drug or alcohol overdose, someone pulling a knife, or from a beating due to teen rage over losing a poker game."

This is not a gun issue, it is a crying shame.

Wingmaster

....a crying shame no one cared enough to raise children and protect them in a world of culture rot!

I was raised, my kids were raised, when situation go south you leave or pay the consequences. I firmly believe my parents when they told me if I was ever arrested that I could plan on spending the night or more in jail. Actions have consequences so "teach, your children well..."

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