A man accused in the 2011 shooting death of Vilonia teen Amanda Allison pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week in Cleburne County Circuit Court under Judge John Dan Kemp.
Cody Lynn Gorecke, 20, of Wilburn, entered the plea on Tuesday evening following a day of jury selection and before opening arguments in the case were scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Kemp sentenced Gorecke to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections on Wednesday for the manslaughter charge and six years in ADC for possession of an illegal weapon. He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
Gorecke was also fined and had his driver’s license suspended for a charge of possession of alcohol by a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was sentenced to 90 days in ADC on each of those charges to run concurrent with his 10- and six-year sentences.
An aggravated assault charge was dropped.
“We felt like manslaughter was what the facts would prove at the trial and that under Arkansas law, that was the charge that best fit,” said 16th Judicial Prosecutor Holly Meyer.
During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, a procession of witnesses described their account of the events on the night that Allison was killed on Jan. 15, 2011 at a house party in Wilburn.Officials say a call was placed to 9-1-1 at 11 p.m. that night, reporting that an individual had been shot.
One witness reported that Gorecke had been showing a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun to party attendees, reportedly telling them that the trigger was non-functional, and that “all it took was to pull the hammers back and let go.”
Witnesses said Gorecke was impaired after having consumed alcohol at the party and was holding the loaded shotgun in the kitchen area of the residence, approximately two feet from where Allison was sitting at the kitchen table when it discharged.
One shot struck Allison in the midsection; another shot hit the west wall of a bedroom adjacent to the kitchen. Allison was found dead at the scene by first responders.
Meyer said on Thursday that Allison’s family was involved in the process “every step of the way.”
“They were involved in ... everything as we presented the case,” Meyer said. “Of course there is nothing that the criminal justice system can do that will make this family whole again, but they were very much a part of this decision.”
Another man, Jerrod Jones, 19, of Heber Springs, was arrested in January and charged with criminal use of a prohibited weapon in connection with the shooting.
Jones reportedly admitted to sawing the shotgun barrel off to an illegal length of 12 inches and to knowing the shotgun didn’t function properly when he made arrangements to sell the shotgun to Gorecke on January 14.
That case is still pending, Meyer said.
“Right now (Jones) is a cooperating defendant,” Meyer said. Jones will likely enter a plea and be sentenced at his next scheduled hearing.