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March 1, 2013: Velure sentenced to prison for shooting friend

A 27-year-old man convicted of fatally shooting another young man in a River Falls apartment nearly two years ago was sentenced this morning to three years in prison followed by five years extended supervision.

At the conclusion of the March 1 sentencing hearing, St. Croix Judge Eric Lundell directed sheriff's deputies to take Anthony P. Velure into custody and transport him to Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun.

Last November Velure, 500 Kennedy St., River Falls, pleaded no contest to homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon in the June 27, 2011, death of Joshua R. Kurer, 24, 1473 Riverside Drive. Velure was originally charged with first-degree reckless homicide.

During the sentencing hearing, which lasted nearly two hours, Kurer's family members, often sobbing as they spoke, asked for as much as 24 years in prison for killing the young man as he sat in his pajamas on a couch in his apartment.

"He had absolutely no right to shoot my brother just because he wouldn't go to a bar with him," wrote Kurer's youngest sister, who was 13 when he died.

"These were comrades, buddies, friends," said Velure's attorney, Mark Gherty, who, while he agreed his client didn't properly "clear" the gun, reminded the courtroom that the crime was one of negligence.

Gherty suggested a sentence of 6-9 months in the county jail, followed by probation and counseling.

The attorney recalled the incident of then-Vice President Dick Cheney accidently shooting a friend.

"That is a hunting accident. It is a shooting accident. It is an accident like we have in this case," said Gherty.

"Virtually no one else would have done what you did," Judge Lundell told Velure prior to sentencing.

The judge said that among the factors he considers in determining a sentence are the seriousness of the offense, punishment and deterrence.

These days it seems men aren't maturing until they reach their 30s and are often involved in risky behavior incomprehensible to ordinary people, said the judge.

The jail sentence Gherty suggested wouldn't deter other young men, but the prison sentence might, Lundell said.

Kurer was shot in the chest with his own multi-caliber Taurus Judge handgun.

During the sentencing hearing, Velure agreed that he had opened the gun and ejected five shells from the six-round gun and thought the gun was empty when he pointed it at Kurer and pulled the trigger twice.

According to the original police report, the two men, who both served in the Army National Guard, had been drinking that day. After Kurer went home sick, Velure went to the other man's apartment to try to persuade him to go back downtown.

The two talked in the living room, and Velure allegedly said he would squeeze the trigger of Kurer's gun if Kurer wouldn't go.

According to the police report, Velure stood over Kurer who was lying on a loveseat, pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. When Velure pulled the trigger a second time, the gun went off.

Kurer died at the scene.

For more, please read next week's print edition of the River Fall Journal or Hudson Star-Observer.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.