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Friend of Dayton shooter 'forever bound' to tragedy sentenced to 32 months in prison

Ethan Kollie, the friend of the Dayton shooter who killed nine people in the Oregon District last summer, appeared in federal court for his sentencing on Thursday. The government argued Kollie is "intertwined, connected and forever bound" to the tragedy.

DAYTON, Ohio — The friend of the Dayton mass shooter will spend more than 2.5 years in prison for crimes unrelated to the deadly shooting last summer.

Ethan Kollie appeared in U.S. District Court in Dayton on Thursday. He was there to be sentenced on two charges — lying on a federal firearms form and being a known drug user in possession of a firearm.

Prior to the hearing, both the government and defense each submitted a sentencing memorandum.

First Assistant United States Attorney Vipal Patel argued that Kollie is a regular drug user with a "penchant for firearms" and a history of "deceit and poor judgment" who will "forever be connected to the tragic events" of the Dayton shooting.

On Aug. 4, 2019, Dayton police say Connor Betts opened fire in the city's Oregon District, killing nine people and injuring more than a dozen others. Court records show that receipts found in Betts' vehicle led investigators to Ethan Kollie's home just hours after the shooting.

While investigators later cleared Kollie of having any direct connection to the deadly shooting, they say he did purchase ammunition, body armor and part of the weapon Betts used in the attack. Kollie also is accused of helping to assemble that weapon and practicing shooting it at a gun range prior to the massacre.

The government's court filing reads:

"In sum, while high as a kite or off in psychedelic land, Kollie carried around a loaded side arm, he owned another one, he owned and shot a Micro-Draco that he lied to obtain, and, in, an effort to undercut Betts' parents, he slyly helped Betts obtain and hide accessories and parts for, and assemble, the AM-15 Betts would later all use in the mass shooting. Nothing good could ever come from it. And, nothing good did."

The defense, on the other hand, objected to that characterization.

In his own filing, defense attorney Nick Gounaris argued Kollie's crimes were being unfairly linked to the Dayton shooting.

The filing reads, in part:

"When the smoke cleared, it was determined that Mr. Kollie was not responsible or involved in the tragic mass shooting. However, the United States chose to ignore his cooperation in assisting investigators, it chose to ignore his honesty and candor and chose to ignore his unquestioned cooperation."

Judge Thomas Rose considered those arguments, along with the guidelines put forth after the pre-sentence report, which called for a sentence of 33 to 41 months.

In the end, the judge ordered that Kollie serve 32 months in prison. He also will have to undergo drug and mental health counseling.

Kollie was released after the hearing to voluntarily report at a later date. He had been released from jail back on Dec. 23 before Thursday's hearing.

Patel praised the ruling, directly linking it to the Dayton shooting and mentioning the victims' family members who were present in court.

"There’s no way to separate the two," Patel said. "The two crimes for which Mr. Kollie pled guilty to and for which he received a sentence today are inextricably intertwined with the events of August 4, as we advocated in court, as I’m saying today."

Gounaris, however, was quick to dispute that connection.

"Everybody’s here, everybody’s interested, but the reality of it is, he hadn’t had any communication with the shooter in over a month before this happened, he didn’t have any contact with the guy," he said. "He wasn’t involved in the planning, he wasn’t involved in any of it, and so, he’s taken responsibility for what he did, which was he wasn’t truthful on the form, and yet, he is somehow being brought into this as if he was somehow involved, and it really couldn’t be further from the truth."

Despite that, Gounaris said he has no plans to appeal the sentence.

Kollie did speak on his own behalf in court. He took responsibility for his actions, blaming drug use as the root of his problems. He did not make mention of the shooting.

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