A Lincoln judge Wednesday sent a 27-year-old Illinois man to prison in connection to a shooting at a University Place apartment a year and a half ago.

Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte told Desmond Pruitt first that he wasn't sure anybody could say exactly what happened that night.

"But there were guns involved, and there was at least one shot," he said.

Otte said such things can't be tolerated. Not only is it dangerous to have a gun in a situation like this one, he said, "this is the kind of case where we have people killed in Lincoln, Nebraska."

Police arrested Pruitt last year in Rock Port, Missouri, alleging he was one of two men who shot up a dice game at 3041 N. 48th St. just before 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2018.

The shooting left Dekarlos Haynes Jr. with a wound to his right leg and triggered a campus alert at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

In an affidavit for Pruitt's arrest, investigators say an acquaintance of one of the dice rollers brought Pruitt to the game, who then asked if his brother could join. 

That man, whom police believe was Ryan A. Taylor, 30, pulled a gun, demanded money from Haynes and shot him, police said in court records. They said Pruitt also pulled a gun and fired, but missed.

The pair left together, taking $2,500 and an iPhone, according to police.

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"I'd like to apologize once more not only to the victim but to the court as well for the events that occurred that night," Pruitt said.

He said he lost his pharmaceutical license as a result of the case but the last 18 months in prison has given him time to try to better himself. And he's started a nonprofit organization to help young men and women who might wind up in front of courts like he did because of bad choices.

His attorney, Nick Glasz, argued for time served or probation, saying Pruitt understands he put himself in a terrible position and has taken responsibility for his actions.

Pruitt, of East St. Louis, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery. He was sentenced to 4½ to 9 years in prison.

Chief Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Bruce Prenda said, to some extent, the court would have to sort through the statements to determine what really happened, but said that Pruitt had taken responsibility for his role.

He said ballistic testing supports the theory that two guns were present and discharged.

Taylor has pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a felony. He's set for trial in December.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.


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