A judge sentenced Spencer Chase Pruitt to 25 years in prison for shooting and killing his girlfriend, Tori Busch, in Panama City Beach last year, agreeing that the defendant’s claim that it was an accident did not negate what happened.
“I believe I heard the term ‘accident,’ ‘terrible accident,’ ‘freak accident.’ Judge, this was no accident,” Prosecutor Devin Collier said to Circuit Judge Brantley Clark during sentencing Monday. “This defendant loaded a firearm … and he pointed it at Tori, right at her face, and he pulled the trigger in a twisted, sick, sinister version of Russian roulette that he played, and it cost this young lady her life.”
Judge Clark agreed, saying that while the defendant was supported by family and friends, and showed remorse, “the mere fact of what happened stands out above everything else – he pointed a gun at someone and pulled the trigger.”
The defendant, 25, entered an open plea Manslaughter with a firearm, and faced between 10 and 30 years in prison.
Evidence showed that the defendant and a group of young adults were visiting Panama City Beach and that many of them had brought guns or knives. On the day of the shooting, Pruitt and at least one other person there were “brandishing their weapons” inside of the room and pointing them at each other.
Panama City Beach police Investigator Tiffany McCullough said in her arrest complaint – part of which was read in open court by Tori Busch’s mother, Kelly Busch – that his investigation showed Pruitt liked to play a game where he would partially put the magazine in a gun without allowing a bullet in the chamber. Then he would point the gun at a friend and pull the trigger.
Kelly Busch, with her husband Brian at her side and their son Anthony behind them, addressed the court during sentencing.
“Before Sept. 7, our family was happy and living in a protective little bubble, innocent and always together,” Busch said. “Now our family is in shock, and the whole world knows what he did to our family. We face a lifetime of denial, hurt, anger, broken hearts, and a gaping hole in our family where Tori should be.”
Busch asked Clark for the maximum sentence, saying it was not an accident, it was a choice by the defendant.
“Tori is now forever 19 because of one man’s very bad choice,” she said. “Nobody should have the power or control to end another human’s life in such a violent way when there was no threat to their own life. Our daughter deserves justice for having her entire adult life stolen from her.”
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