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Canyon Drive death

Billings police investigate the scene of a shooting death on the 2100 block of Canyon Drive in November.

Prosecutors will ask for a 25-year prison sentence for the man who shot and killed his friend after the two struggled to cope with the effects of a psilocybin mushroom trip in November.

William Eugene Kenney, 30, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on June 28. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors will recommend 30 years to the Montana State Prison, with five years suspended. The maximum possible penalty is a 30-year prison sentence.

Kenney is free to argue for a lesser sentence in the negligent homicide case, but none was specified in the plea agreement.

Kenney fatally shot John Smathers, 25, according to an identification provided by the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office. Smathers' body was discovered Nov. 21, 2018. 

Kenney told police later that the two had gotten high on mushrooms and “they couldn’t handle it anymore, and they decided to shoot themselves,” charges state. Kenney told investigators he remembered shooting Smathers with an AR-15, shooting himself, and then passing out.

Kenney’s father found the two men in the basement of his home, where Kenney also lived.

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Kenney was sent to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his chin, with the bullet going behind his eye and exiting at the top of his head, charges state.

An autopsy showed Smathers died of a single gunshot wound with an entry at the back of his head, charges state.

Kenney remains jailed in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility on a $50,000 bond. 

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.