Years after teen is killed by neighbor, Wichita murder case ends with prison sentence

A 50-year-old Wichita man has been ordered to serve 12 1/2 years in prison for killing a teenage neighbor in a 2017 shooting that police have said was accidental.

Judge Christopher Magana denied a request from Fabian Juan Griffin’s lawyer to place him on probation as punishment for the death of 16-year-old Casey James Lawrukiewicz. Attorney Charles O’Hara argued that Griffin wouldn’t do well in prison because he suffers from a number of physical and mental health issues, including developmental disabilities, schizophrenia, a personality disorder, an alcohol use disorder, diabetes and a brain injury.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, pointed out that despite the ailments, Griffin had functioned in society fairly well leading up to the deadly shooting. He drove, interacted with friends, had romantic relationships, worked and lived independently, Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney Robert Short said before the 150-month sentence was pronounced.

Those things, the judge said, all demonstrated that Griffin had the knowledge and wherewithal to know the consequences of his actions.

Griffin also had amassed a “lengthy” criminal history, Magana said, before he fatally shot Lawrukiewicz in the head shortly before midnight on March 3, 2017.

“That criminal history has now culminated in the most serious crime ... murder,” the judge said, finding there was no substantial and compelling reason to depart to probation.

Griffin pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in October 2022.

Although the judge ordered a 12 1/2-year prison sentence, Griffin will be incarcerated only for about five more years because he will receive credit for the time he’s spent in jail waiting for the case to resolve. His case was delayed repeatedly over the last seven years while Griffin’s competency was in question.

Relatives of Lawrukiewicz sobbed as they made tearful pleas to the court Wednesday to sentence Griffin to more time in prison.

Lawrukiewicz’s mother said she didn’t “think it’s fair that he (Griffin) can walk free after 12 years” when her only son had been robbed of milestones like graduating from high school, getting married and meeting his nieces and nephews.

Seeing a child dying shouldn’t be a last thing a parent sees, she told the judge.

But it’s something she’ll never forget.

“I’ll never get to see his face again,” she said.

Short told the court that while Lawrukiewicz “wasn’t a perfect kid” he did nothing to contribute to his death. He had been sitting on a couch at a neighbor’s house at 1704 S. Yale, talking to a girl on the phone, when Griffin picked up a 9mm semi-automatic handgun off of a computer desk, pointed it at him and pulled the trigger, he said.

Lawrukiewicz, a Wichita East High School student, died at 1:35 a.m. March 4, 2017, at Wesley Medical Center.

After the shooting, Griffin told police he thought the gun, which belonged to his neighbor, had been loaded with blanks, according to an affidavit released by the court.

Griffin told police he’d previously fired blanks from the gun and that he and his friends sometimes pulled pranks on one another in the style of the television show “Jackass,” the affidavit says. Authorities have said Griffin didn’t mean to kill the teen but he was handling the gun unsafely.

“He feels terrible about what happened. ... It was an accident,” O’Hara said Wednesday, adding that drinking, drug use and stunts were likely involved that night.

Lawrukiewicz’s family members said in court they doubted the shooting was unintentional. Several said Griffin had been warned that the gun was loaded before he pulled the trigger and questioned how he could point a weapon at a person he claimed to have cared for so much.

When it was his turn to address the court, Griffin apologized and asked Lawrukiewicz’s family to forgive him. He said he was not a killer.

“I wish none of it would’ve happened. ... He was a great friend to me,” Griffin said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Magana ordered Griffin to pay $5,000 in restitution to reimburse the Kansas Crime Victims Compensation Board for payments made to Lawrukiewicz’s family.

Fabian Juan Griffin, 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the March 3, 2017, fatal shooting of 16-year-old Casey James Lawrukiewicz.
Fabian Juan Griffin, 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the March 3, 2017, fatal shooting of 16-year-old Casey James Lawrukiewicz.

Affidavit: Man who killed 16-year-old thought gun had blanks in it

Man charged with second-degree murder in teen’s shooting death

Wichita man jailed in fatal shooting of teenager

Man charged with shooting teen neighbor pleads not guilty