A man pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting a friend in July, but said he had blacked out and couldn’t remember the Rapid City incident.
Michael Wisecarver, 49, of Piedmont, admitted using a .22-caliber pistol to shoot Chad Arnold, 42, outside the victim’s home in the evening of July 2.
“I went to his house and I shot him, I guess,” Wisecarver told Judge Robert Mandel at a Pennington County hearing Tuesday afternoon. “He said I did it, so I did it.”
Wisecarver described Arnold as a “very good friend” whom he had known for four years.
Wisecarver, who had served in the Marines for eight years beginning in 1985, said he had not touched alcohol in two and a half years, but got drunk that day when he was thinking about the state of his finances and relationship. The last thing he remembered about July 2 was going to a friend’s house and chatting.
The memories returned with the sound of knocking, as he lay in bed, then Meade County law enforcement saying they wanted to talk to him about a shooting.
According to investigators, Wisecarver used a stolen pickup to drive up to Arnold’s home on the west side of Rapid City. Arnold told police he was in the process of moving out, and was either entering or exiting his vehicle, when Wisecarver shot at him from the driver’s side window multiple times.
Arnold was hit by one bullet, which pierced his left arm, traveled through his left side and settled against his spine, according to a detective’s affidavit submitted in court July 5. It said Arnold lay immobile in his driveway overnight till a passerby saw him and called for help the following morning.
He is now paralyzed, Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel told the court Tuesday.
If the case had gone to trial — it was originally scheduled for jury trial in December — Roetzel said Arnold would have testified that he had made eye contact with Wisecarver during the shooting. Wisecarver had also “confessed” to three people about trying to kill Arnold or shooting someone, the prosecutor said.
One of them told police that Wisecarver had described Arnold’s shooting as a “target of opportunity,” according to the police affidavit.
The pickup Wisecarver had been driving was later found with a .22-caliber gun and ammunition inside, Roetzel said.
Wisecarver will return to court for sentencing Jan. 10. He is facing up to 15 years in prison for aggravated assault, as well as five to 25 years for committing a felony with a firearm.
His lawyer, Matt Stephens, said the state’s attorney’s office will recommend a maximum of 30 years in accordance with their plea agreement. The judge makes the final sentencing decision.
Wisecarver is detained at the Pennington County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.