A Jacksonville man who accidentally shot and killed his 20-year-old girlfriend in 2017 and then lied to the cops about her death has been sentenced to one year in prison.
Sean Lovins, 31, learned of his fate on Thursday after pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge.. Lovins has already served two years both in jail and on house arrest leading up to Thursday, and now he will serve one more year in jail followed by five years of probation.
Lovins Told Cops Hite Shot Herself While He was Sleeping
Officers were called on July 29, 2017, to the couple's apartment on Dunsford Terrace where Lovins said his girlfriend, a preschool teacher who had been divorced earlier that year, shot herself while he was asleep.
The couple had been out at two bars and a friend's apartment that night then went home. A few hours later, Lovins ran to a neighbor's apartment saying Hite shot herself. In a brief interview with officers, Lovins said the same thing and the case was being investigated as a suicide until investigators found that the evidence didn't add up.
Investigators also found gunpowder residue on Lovins' left hand even though Lovins denied touching the pistol. This eventually led police to believe the couple had been wrestling with the gun prior to it going off.
Additional forensic evidence and tests conducted over a year since the date of Hite's death revealed that the shot that killed her was fired at a distance of 2 feet or greater, ruling out suicide. Lovins was arrested in November 2018.
Lovins Accidentally Shot Hite in the Head During Fit of Anger
According to Dan Skinner, State Attorney's Office Homicide Division director, the couple had come home and were talking when Lovins "became angry in a totally unrelated matter."
"A gun was produced," Skinner previously said in court. "And during the handling of the gun between the two, the gun was fired striking Ms. Hite in the right portion, just above her ear, a through-and-through wound, one gunshot wound to her head."
Lovins' plea deal with prosecutors included a plea of guilty to manslaughter which is a lesser charge than the original second-degree murder charges initially filed.