Lancaster County man pleads guilty to killing friend in disagreement over video game

LANCASTER — An East Earl Township man pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the shooting death of Timothy Demeritt Wednesday in Lancaster County Court.

Alexander J. Murray, 19, will serve up to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison in exchange for his plea, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Murray admitted that on April 9, he pointed a loaded gun — which he believed had the safety engaged — at Demeritt, and then pulled the trigger, First Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Larsen said in court.

Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn Jr., while accepting the plea terms, described third-degree murder as showing an indifference to human life, absent a specific intent to kill.

“Your behavior was reckless, it was wanton, and it truly did show an extreme disregard for the value of human life,” Judge Spahn told Murray. “In a very short period of time, you have caused a lot of pain.”

The shooting started with a disagreement between Demeritt and a third person, all friends playing video games, on April 9 at a home on the 200 block of Orchard Road in Brecknock Township.

In attempt to stop the argument, Murray held Demeritt’s gun to Demeritt’s head and pulled the trigger. Demeritt was killed instantly.

Murray eventually confessed to police, indicating he knew Demeritt to keep his gun with the safety on. There was nothing to indicate Murray and Demeritt had ill will toward one another or were involved in confrontation.

Larsen said police and Demeritt’s family approved of the plea terms. Judge Spahn called it an appropriate resolution.

“I have no problem with people having guns,” Judge Spahn told Murray. “But with possession of guns, comes an extreme responsibility…. You completely failed in that responsibility.”

Murray gave a short apology to Demeritt’s family.

As part of sentence, Murray must pay $14,935 in restitution for funeral costs and damage to the home.