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Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Deal nets manslaughter conviction in Land O' Lakes teen's shooting

A plea deal was reached Wednesday in the 2009 shooting death of a Land O' Lakes teenager. Douglas Gabriel Cevallos Jr., now 23, of Land O' Lakes, was charged with manslaughter after the gun he was holding went off and killed Dustin Sean White in the early morning hours of June 14, 2009. White was 17. Cevallos entered a plea of guilty on Wednesday and agreed to serve a six-year prison sentence followed by nine years of probation. He also will have to speak on the dangers of underage drinking. Cevallos, who has been free on bail, was taken into custody Wednesday to serve his sentence.
"We hope the big picture is embraced by the community rather than just being confined to just the tragedies of these families," said Luke Lirot, a lawyer who helped the White family work out the plea deal. White and Cevallos were at a party at 4508 Parkway Blvd. with at least 40 other people when a fight began in the parking lot of the neighborhood's clubhouse. White was in the clubhouse, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, when at about 2 a.m. the fight, involving two brothers and other individuals, erupted in the clubhouse parking lot. One of the brothers had a weapon and the gun fell from his holster to the ground. Cevallos, who was 19 at the time, picked up the gun and waved it. That's when a single shot was fired, hitting White. The man carrying the weapon did have a permit. Cevallos was arrested two days later and released the next day after posting $50,000 bail. It took about a year, because of a number of changes in attorneys for Cevallos, to reach a deal both sides could agree on, Lirot said. Lirot, a friend of the White family whose daughter was friends with Dustin White, said Dustin's father, Scott, said there were no winners in the case. "We tried to come up with a resolution that we thought would properly obtain justice," Lirot said. "Initially the entire 15 years wasn't enough, but after a while, I think you look at it from a broader perspective. You look at the family of the kid. … Truly, this was an accident. A very serious and tragic accident."

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