Trial in ‘swatting’ case delayed so suspect can pursue GED
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The trial for a Kansas gamer accused in a deadly “swatting” call in 2017 has been delayed by an additional year after the man failed to obtain his high school equivalency.
The Wichita Eagle reports that the defense attorney for Shane Gaskill joined prosecutors last week in asking U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren to extend Gaskill’s 18-month pre-trial diversion for another 12 months so he can complete a GED program. A written motion from the attorneys said the extension “is in the best interests of the defendant and the United States.”
Melgren agreed to the request on Dec. 23. If Gaskill completes the terms of his deferred prosecution agreement, prosecutors can dismiss the criminal case.
Gaskill is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and other counts in connection with a series of events on Dec. 28, 2017, that culminated in the fatal police shooting of an innocent 28-year-old man on the front porch of his family’s home in Wichita.
The death of Andrew Finch drew national attention to “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities, particularly a SWAT team, to descend on an address.
Gaskill got into an online argument with Ohio gamer Casey Viner while they were playing the Call of Duty video game. Authorities said Viner recruited Tyler R. Barriss to “swat” Gaskill, who was 19 at the time. But the address they used was old, leading police to Finch, who was not involved in the dispute or playing the video game.
Barriss, a Los Angeles man with an online reputation for “swatting,” called police from Los Angeles to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at that Wichita address. Finch was shot by police when he opened the door to see what was happening outside.
Gaskill was charged as a co-conspirator after knowingly giving Barriss the same former address and taunting him to “try something.”
Barriss is serving 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to 51 counts in April 2019. Viner received a 15-month prison sentence in September 2019 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.