At his sentencing Monday, Lance R. Mueller of Chippewa Falls said he was sorry for firing a shot that killed a Louisiana man in Texas in 2010.
“He apologized. I don’t think it was wholehearted,” said Clint Woods, assistant district attorney of Jefferson County, Texas.
Mueller, 49, of 4885 Golfview Drive, Chippewa Falls, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison in the shooting death of Gregory J. Fleniken, 55, of Lafayette, La., on Sept. 16, 2010 at the MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center in Beaumont, Texas.
Mueller was convicted of firing a shot from the Beaumont hotel room where he was staying. The bullet went through a wall and into an adjoining room, killing Fleniken.
Woods said Mueller admitted using toothpaste to cover the bullet hole in the motel room where he was staying. Mueller claimed he did that a week after the shooting, but Woods is skeptical of that.
“I think he lied (about) when he did,” Woods said.
Mueller pleaded no contest in Fleniken’s death on Oct. 16.
Mueller could have received a maximum sentence of 20 years, but Woods said prosecutors were pleased with the 10-year sentence.
“We didn’t want him to get probation,” Woods said.
Mueller will have to serve at least half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, which will be for five years.
Woods said Mueller began his sentence on Monday. Prisoners are shipped to the Huntsville (Texas) Prison, where they are then shipped to any Texas prison with the available space.
Fleniken’s widow, Susan Fleniken, was in the courtroom along with Fleniken’s relatives, Woods said.
According to a police complaint:
Mueller and Timothy R. Steinmetz, both electricians from Wisconsin, were in the same motel room Sept. 16 with Trent Pasano. Mueller and Steinmetz worked for Aaron Bourque, an electrical crew foreman.
Bourque said Mueller told him that Mueller and others were drinking together in a hotel room. Mueller said he had a pistol and fired it. The bullet went into the wall that separated the motel rooms.
Fleniken’s estate filed a civil lawsuit on Sept. 12 against Mueller, Steinmetz, Pasano and the MCM Elegante Hotel, according to the Southeast Texas Record. The lawsuit says the hotel did not take action to quiet the behavior of Mueller and others in Mueller’s room.