TODD COUNTY, Minn. - A Todd County man has pleaded guilty to unintentionally shooting and killing his girlfriend while she held their child.
A judge heard the plea bargain agreement on Tuesday. Tyler Slagerman entered a guilty plea for unintentional manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend, Lacey Kuschel.
The couple’s daughter was not hurt, but Slagerman was charged with child endangerment and 2nd degree unintentional manslaughter. He currently has custody of the child.
The judge will look through all the evidence before accepting the plea agreement. If accepted, both sides are asking the judge for a maximum sentence of no more than a year in county jail and 10 years probation.
In court on Tuesday, Kuschel's family heard testimony from Slagerman, who said what happened on Feb. 25 of last year was an accident.
According to court documents, Lacey Kuschel was shot while holding her daughter, Aspen.
Slagerman, who was Kuschel's boyfriend and Aspen's father, admitted in court that around 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 25, he returned home from a night of drinking alcohol. He said his dogs ran out of the house and he heard a commotion.
Slagerman said the family has had issues with animals at the house and that he kept a loaded gun in their bedroom. He further stated that he quickly grabbed the gun and it went off as he was rushing out the bedroom door.
He said he asked Kuschel if she was OK, and that she told him she was. He said he went downstairs to go outside and that's when he heard her yell for him.
Slagerman called 911 and when deputies arrived, Kuschel was found dead.
"I haven't gotten to look at the evidence but I have a really hard time believing it was an accident," said Sarah Kuschel. "A firearm does not just go off."
Sarah Kuschel said it was her first time hearing Slagerman's statement.
"It really made me sick to my stomach because what we've been told as a family is Lacey was shot through the heart and if you're shot through the heart you die instantly," said Sarah Kuschel.
The families say they will be focusing on Aspen, who is 1 year old, while they wait. Slagerman currently has custody and the family says if that continues, they hope they can have a relationship with him, as Aspen will need support from her family growing up without her mom.
“I don't fault him that he wants time with his daughter," said Sarah Kuschel. "Obviously every parent wants time with their child just as much as Lacey was looking forward to all life's milestones. Becoming a mom was her number one thing."
The judge will make a decision by this summer. If the judge denies the plea agreement, there will be a trial.