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LAFAYETTE — A former Purdue University student from Carmel will not spend any time in prison for fatally shooting his friend during an alcohol-fueled prank last August.

Instead, Cory S. Lynch, 23, was sentenced today in Tippecanoe Circuit Court to two years on community corrections — some combination of work release, house arrest and day reporting — and one year on supervised probation.

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“I never thought I would see a case where somebody dies and somebody doesn’t go to prison,” Judge Don Daniel told Lynch. “I don’t believe putting you in prison would accomplish anything for anybody.”

Lynch, of Carmel, pleaded guilty in January to reckless homicide, a Class C felony, in the shooting death of Landon Siela, 23. He had faced two to eight years incarceration.

The shooting occurred on Aug. 22, 2009, at 204 Wiggins St. in West Lafayette, where Lynch lived with Siela’s longtime friend, William Calderon, 22.

It was two days before classes began for Purdue’s fall semester.

The three friends had spent the day drinking beer and hard liquor and playing with an airsoft gun, which shoots plastic pellets. According to information during Lynch and Calderon’s separate guilty pleas, they then decided to prank Siela using real guns.

Lynch had not realized the gun he pointed at Siela was loaded. He pulled the trigger, and a bullet struck Siela in the throat. The firearm belonged to Calderon.

“There’s no way I can ever forgive myself for what I’ve done,” Lynch said this morning. “I can see and feel the heartbreak when talking to Landon’s family. … I know it’s not enough to say I’m sorry.

“But I’m sorry for what I did and how I acted.”

Lynch’s sentence was in line with recommendations made by Siela’s parents, Ron and Janet Siela of Fort Wayne. They asked for the minimum punishment allowed under Indiana law.

Ron Siela, who testified this morning, told Daniel that it’s what his son would have wanted.

“Landon was always protective of his friends no matter what,” Ron Siela said through tears. “He might go down the wrong path with them, but he would always stand by them.

“… We’re doing what Landon would have done.”

Deputy Prosecutor Jason Biss and Tippecanoe County’s probation department each recommended that Lynch be sentenced to two years in prison and two years on supervised probation.

Biss noted that Lynch had two prior alcohol-related arrests – one of them as a juvenile. At the time of the fatal shooting, Lynch was out on bond for an unrelated charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

That arrest was in June 2009 in Hamilton County.

By Sophia Voravong / Journal & Courier, Lafayette Indystar.com

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