Teen’s killer out of jail after 8 months

Reporter: Amanda Hall
Published: Updated:

A teenager charged with manslaughter after accidentally shooting and killing his girlfriend is now out of jail after serving less than a year.

Meanwhile, the victim’s mother says she’s living a life sentence.

The victim was a 16-year-old girl, Autumn Higgs. Her mother, Denise, will never forget the call she got that night.

“That was the worst thing that can ever happen. If you’ve seen it happen to other people, you can feel that wrench in your gut, but then when you get the call, you become in a club you never wanted to be a part of,” Denise said.

17-year-old Hayden Wik said he took the magazine out of the gun, then pulled the trigger to show it was clear, but it wasn’t.

A bullet hit Autumn in the face.

“He pointed that gun right at Autumn as far as I am from you this close. He pointed that gun at her, and he pulled the trigger and said, ‘This is how you clear the chamber.’ One split second can affect so many lives,” Denise said.

Wik pleaded no contest to manslaughter and illegal gun possession.

Manslaughter carries a maximum of 30 years in prison, but the judge has discretion and sentenced the teenager as a “youthful offender,” which capped Wik’s jail time at 364 days.

The Youthful Offender Act is designed “to improve the chances of correction and successful return to the community.”

Wik got out of jail last week. He served eight months. Denise is still in pain over the loss of her daughter and the judge’s leniency toward her killer.

“He sent the message that you can buy your kid a gun, and he can kill someone in our town, and he’ll be out in 245 days, so what’s to stop parents from doing this? What’s this prevent parents from doing this?” Denise said.

Lori Wik is serving five years probation for allowing her son to have the gun. On top of that, Wik also spends four days a year in jail around the day Autumn died and her birthday, which is Saturday.

This year, Autumn would turn 20.

“I hope this haunts them every minute of every day for the rest of their lives,” Denise said.

Denise believes the Youthful Offender Act has merits, but the sentencing guide is too lenient, so she contacted Congressman Greg Steck and State Attorney Amira Fox.

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