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A Lititz man pleaded guilty Friday to third-degree murder for the shooting of his “friend” last year in Penn Township.
Shawn D. Bergman will serve 12 to 24 years in prison for shooting 19-year-old Christopher Levy in the face on Nov. 5 inside an apartment in the 400 block of South Main Street.
Bergman, 24, was under the influence of multiple drugs when he fired the shot, according to testimony at an hourlong sentencing hearing.
Levy was with a group of acquaintances at the apartment – everyone left when the shot was fired.
“They all left him alone to die,” Bruce Pierce, Christopher’s grandfather, said in court. “Friends do not do that.”
Northern Lancaster County Regional police found Levy face down by a couch inside the apartment. He died two days later at a hospital in Philadelphia.
Christopher’s mother and grandparents discussed the horrific injuries caused by the gunshot wound, and the devastation of helplessly watching Christopher pass away.
“I placed my hand on his heart and felt it stop,” Jessica Levy said of her son. “I will never hold Christopher’s children. I will never meet Christopher’s wife.”
Christine Pierce, Christopher’s grandmother, called the incident an “unimaginable tragedy.”
“Unbearable thoughts plague every moment of every day,” she said. “Was he terrified? Was he afraid? Was he in pain?”
Bergman’s defense lawyer said his client and Levy were “best friends.” The two had been hanging out for days and had not slept, investigators found.
“I messed up, and I’m truly sorry,” Bergman said in a brief statement.
Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely accepted the plea terms and ordered sentence. Bergman also pleaded guilty to stealing his stepfather’s pistol, used in the shooting.
Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson arranged the plea agreement, which considered Bergman’s intoxication. ADA Wilson said the investigation did not show evidence of premeditation.
After pulling the trigger, witnesses heard Bergman say, “Did I just shoot my friend?”
Levy’s relatives said it was a “senseless, preventable crime.”
Levy had graduated from Warwick High School a few months earlier.
“He continues to be a light in my life,” Bruce Pierce said.
Northern Lancaster County Regional police Detective Theresa Stauffer, who filed charges, sat in court for the sentencing hearing.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright