Nelsonville man is sentenced for the fatal shooting of a young boy

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A Nelsonville man was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison in connection with the shooting death of a young boy.

Donald Platt
[Athens County Prosecutor’s Office]
Donald Platt, 37, was found guilty last month on charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering children.

In March 2021, Platt left a loaded and unsecured firearm in his home that his 14-year-old son was able to access. The boy then accidentally shot and killed 11-year-old Eli Spangler. Platt’s son was adjudicated in Athens County Juvenile Court as delinquent after admitting to reckless homicide.

“This case was not about gun ownership,” Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in a prepared statement. “It was about responsible gun ownership.” 

The two charges against Platt merged for the purposes of sentencing. A maximum sentence of 16 and a half years was possible by statute. The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office argued for a minimum of eight years with a maximum of 12. The defense argued for community control and no prison time before Judge George McCarthy imposed the four-year sentence. 

“I support firearm ownership, but you have a huge responsibility if you’re going to own a firearm,” Nelsonville Police Chief Scott Fitch said in a prepared statement. “It’s every gun owner’s responsibility to keep their guns safe and out of the reach of children or any other person. Hopefully, no family ever has to experience this again.”