JEFFERSON COUNTY- By: Kalie Desimone/ KFDM News - BEAUMONT - A judge has sentenced a man to ten years in prison for manslaughter following a fatal shooting in a room at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont.
Monday morning Judge Layne Walker sentenced Lance Robert Mueller, 48. He faced a sentence ranging from probation to 20 years in prison.
Mueller and several friends had traveled from Wisconsin to Southeast Texas to work on a refinery expansion.
Beaumont police say in September of 2010 Mueller and his friends were drinking in a room at the Elegante and Mueller was playing around with his 9 millimeter pistol. It fired and a bullet went through the wall, striking Gregory Fleniken, 55. He died in the room.
Evidence shows Mueller and his friends didn't tell anyone. They didn't check to see if anyone was hurt. Instead, they went to the hotel bar and continued drinking.
It wasn't until the next morning they learned the bullet had struck someone.
It was an emotional day in Judge Walker's courtroom as the Fleniken family listened to the judge question Lance Mueller.
The judge demanded answers, asking why Mueller used toothpaste in an effort to cover up the bullet hole in the wall of the motel room.
The judge was also interested in learning more about Mueller's extensive criminal background with drinking and driving. He has at least three charges.
Mueller's wife sat in the second row and cried when the judge told her husband his reckless behavior would eventually have killed someone-and it did.
The victim's widow, Susan Fleniken, gave an impact statement.
"You are finally forced to look at yourself, look at your life that you still have, while Greg is reduced to powder inside of a box in the home he never got to come back to," said Susan Fleniken.
She later told KFDM News, "Justice was served. I got to finally address my thoughts to this man. Had he simply come forward this would have been a different accident. When you don't make moral decisions it causes other people and both our families, everyone has been through a lot of torment and pain."
BEAUMONT - A judge has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for Manslaughter following a fatal shooting in a room at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont. Judge Layne Walker sentenced Lance Robert Mueller, 48, Monday morning. He faced a sentence ranging from probation to 20 years in prison. Relatives of the victim, Greg Fleniken, 55, drove from Baton Rouge to attend Monday's sentencing. Watch KFDM News at 5 and 6 for reaction from relatives of Greg Fleniken.
Click here to read the victim's impact statement of Susie Fleniken Mueller pleaded no contest to manslaughter Tuesday, October 16. He fired a gun inside a room the MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont in September 2010. The bullet went through a wall and killed the 55-year-old businessman.
Fleniken's widow told KFDM News following the plea that "people can hit a dog on the side of the road and have more compassion than Mueller had" for her husband.
Mueller and several friends had traveled from Wisconsin to Southeast Texas to work on a refinery expansion. Beaumont Police say Mueller and his friends were drinking in a room at the Elegante and Mueller was playing around with his 9 millimeter pistol. It fired. The bullet went through the wall and struck Fleniken. He died in the room. Mueller and his friends didn't tell anyone. They didn't even bother to check to see if anyone was hurt. They went to the hotel bar and continued drinking. It wasn't until the next morning they learned the bullet had struck someone.
"Even when they saw the body taken out of the room, if there was any doubt that at that point 'did I hurt somebody?' To still not have the moral capacity to come forward, that's scary to me that people can walk around like that," said Susan Fleniken, Greg Fleniken's widow.
Police say Mueller still didn't come forward. He used toothpaste to try to hide the bullet hole in the wall. Mueller and the friends went back home to Wisconsin. Detectives finally put the evidence together and arrested Mueller in June of 2011, about nine months after the shooting. Fleniken's family never stopped fighting for answers. Susan Fleniken told us it's what her husband would have wanted.
"Greg would say 'good for you, Sue. You stuck with it. You found out who did it, brought them to court and now have a happy life,' cause that's what he would want."