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Plea entered in accidental shooting

ALEXANDRIA -- A Plankinton man accused of accidentally shooting his friend pleaded not guilty Wednesday to aggravated assault and reckless discharge of a weapon.

Logan Evans, 18, entered the plea at the Hanson County Courthouse. The aggravated assault charge includes three counts, all for his actions against the shooting victim. The counts are for exhibiting indifference to the value of human life; causing bodily injury with a dangerous weapon; and attempting by physical menace with a deadly weapon to put another in fear of imminent, serious bodily injury.

Evans is accused of accidentally shooting Nick Lawson, 17, who was riding in Evans' vehicle June 22 on Interstate 90. Two other juvenile-age passengers were in the vehicle when Evans discharged his 9 mm handgun toward Lawson.

According to court documents, Evans admitted at the time of his arrest that he pulled the trigger as a joke, thinking the gun was unloaded.

The bullet struck Lawson in the chest. He was flown to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls and has been recovering since surgery in June.

Evans said little in court Tuesday. His attorney, Rebecca Millan, of Mitchell, entered a written plea of not guilty. Evans sat next to Millan during the short proceeding and wore a dress shirt, slacks and a tie. Family members, including his mother, accompanied him in the courtroom.

Judge Tim Bjorkman scheduled Evans for an October jury trial.

Lawson is at home, according to Jan Kristensen, a family friend and also an organizer of a benefit set for the Lawson family Aug. 10.

"Nick is doing better. He's getting stronger every day," Kristensen said. "He's home now. He's not out and about, but he's doing well."

Kristensen said Lawson came home the first week of July. He had a tube in his chest but has had it removed since, she said. Lawson still sleeps in a recliner, since he cannot sleep lying down, she said, and has lost 20 pounds since the shooting.

"Just thank God he's still alive," she added.

The August benefit, which will take place at the Commerce Street Grille & Bar, will include a free-will pork sandwich meal from 5 to 7 p.m., co-sponsored by the Aurora County Pork Producers.

An auction will start at 7 p.m. To donate items, call Kristensen at 605-942-7519 or 605-942-7781, or call Kathy Guindon at 605-942-7350 or 605-770-2324.

TEAM Soundsystem, of Plankinton, is donating time Aug. 10 to provide music for a dance following the auction.

Funds up to $2,500 will be matched by Modern Woodmen of America.

Any questions about the event can be directed to Kristensen or Guindon.