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Man sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in deadly swatting case

Photo: Glendale Police Dept.
Photo: Glendale Police Dept.(GIM)
Published: Mar. 29, 2019 at 11:01 AM CDT
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A federal judge sentenced a California man to 20 years in prison in connection with the swatting death of an unarmed Wichita man.

Tyler Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 charges related to making fake calls around the country. One of those phone calls led Wichita police to shoot and kill Andrew Finch in December of 2017.

Finch answered the door and was shot and killed by an officer who thought he was reaching for a gun. Finch's family said he was trying to pull up his pants.

Barriss said he called Wichita police following a dispute over a $1.50 bet between online gamers who were playing "Call of Duty: WWII."

The defense said Barriss found himself to be a "prolific swatter" who found solace in the gaming community. He called the 26-year-old a "serial swatter." The charges against him include cases out of Kansas, California and Washington, D.C.

"He really has no one left in his family that's left to care for him," said Barriss' attorney

He said his client lacked the education and capacity to thrive, with a best friend that he's never even met in person but only online.

Barriss wrote letters to the Finch family, Wichita police and local first responders. Federal attorneys said the letter to the family was remorseful, but they questioned the others and recommended a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Barriss' attorney agreed true remorse was hard to detect but said his client understands what happened.

Barriss took his turn in court to apologize to the Finch family. He said the shooting is what he is most remorseful about. He said he thought it was unfair to call him a murderer, but he said he's a major factor in what happened.

"I'm not very good at conveying feeling and emotions in spoken words... it may not sound as sincere as I want," said Barriss. "If I would have never made the phone call, he never would have lost his life. "

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said as part of the sentence, later Friday or Monday, he will file paperwork to dismiss state involuntary manslaughter charges against Barriss.

Bennett said Barriss would face far less prison time because of that likely only around two years compared to 20 for the federal charges.

As a part of his sentencing, Barriss will have to pay $5,000 restitution to the Kansas Crime Victims Compensation Fund as well as $5,100 for all the charges to which he pleaded guilty.

Co-defendants Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill, the gamers in the case, will each have their day in federal court next month. Viner has a change of plea on April 3. Gaskill's trial is set for April 23.

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