The parents of a slain Texas State Student who was accidentally shot dead through a wall by his neighbour have asked that the killer’s sentence be reviewed.
Austin Salyer, 20, was lying in bed inside his apartment in the city of San Marcos when he was struck by a bullet fired from his next-door neighbour Gabriel Brown. Mr Brown turned himself in following the 16 September 2021 shooting, telling authorities that his gun misfired while he was modifying it and speaking on the phone with his father, FOX 7 reports.
Mr Brown was not immediately arrested but was eventually charged with criminally negligent homicide. Mr Brown’s initial 180-day prison sentence was later changed to just 90 days, sparking outrage among loved ones of Salyer. His parents, Bonnie and Rodney Salyer, have now requested a Hays County judge to review the case.
“It just terrifies us to think how long he might have laid their suffering with his neighbour next door and not getting any help for him,” Mr Salyer told FOX.
Ms Salyer said she first became concerned when she tried to call her son very early in the morning but he wouldn’t pick up the phone. Salyer, a criminal justice and military science junior, was supposed to wake up at 4.30 am for his first road march with his Army platoon on the morning his body was found.
“I thought maybe he just was in a hurry, he left his phone, which I knew in my heart that wasn’t true because nobody leaves their phone behind, right, it’s become part of our, literally part of our bodies. And so about 7:30 I kind of started to panic, panic started to set in,” Ms Salyer told Fox.
The grieving mother said she asked a friend of her son to check in on him. Moments later, Ms Salyer received the news of her son’s death over the phone.
“A police officer called and said, you know, what’s your son’s full name? What’s his date of birth? And then he said, I’m sorry to tell you over the phone, but we found your son deceased in his apartment this morning,” Ms Salyer said.
The Salyers alleged they were not made aware of Brown’s sentencing change, and when they requested a hearing to review the developments, it was denied.
“We were like, how can that be? We weren’t involved, nobody’s told us anything about this. Well, the change to 90 days is this, the document was correctly typed up with 18 days. Someone scratched it out and wrote in nine. No, no initials. No, nothing,” Mr Salyer told Fox. “If we didn’t follow up with him, it would have just gone behind the scenes.”