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Man gets prison time for fatally shooting 19-year-old girlfriend

Updated December 4, 2019 - 12:49 pm

A young man who fatally shot his 19-year-old girlfriend outside a house party in Henderson was sentenced Wednesday to up to four years in a Nevada prison after an emotional court hearing.

Noah Ray Hadley, 19, pleaded guilty in October, as part of a plea deal, to one count of involuntary manslaughter in the June death of 19-year-old Amelia “Mia” Claypool. He had originally faced one count of murder.

After hearing from five of Claypool’s family members, District Judge Michelle Leavitt handed down the maximum prison sentence of 19 to 48 months.

“On June 27, Noah Hadley plunged our family into hell,” Claypool’s father, Donald Blain, said Wednesday. “Generations lost. Generations yet to join our family who will never know her — only stories of her horrific end at the hands of Noah Hadley.”

Claypool was shot in the parking lot of a gated neighborhood near Horizon Ridge Parkway and Paradise Hills Drive.

Hadley, 18 at the time, made the 911 call, at first reporting that his girlfriend had been shot by “some random guy,” according to his arrest report.

By the time of his arrest hours later, he had changed his story at least three times, the report showed. Claypool died at a hospital of a single gunshot wound to the chest.

After the shot was fired, authorities have said, Hadley thrust the handgun at a friend, who then hid the weapon under the driver’s seat of his truck before officers arrived. Police later recovered the weapon.

Henderson police also obtained a video posted to Hadley’s Snapchat account seven minutes before the 911 call. In the three-second video, Hadley is holding the black handgun used in Claypool’s killing, according to the report.

Hadley’s attorney, Erick Ferran, previously said the shooting was “not a case of premeditated murder” but instead “a stupid, horrible, tragic accident.”

Before he was sentenced, Hadley said, “I would just like to say that I’m very sorry to the family. I understand that nothing I can say or do will ever make up for their loss. I do hope they can understand one day that this was an accident, and I’m just so sorry.”

When Hadley looked toward the courtroom gallery packed with Claypool’s relatives, one whispered, “Oh, don’t look at us.”

An undated photo of Amelia "Mia" Suzanne Claypool. She was shot and killed by her boyfriend on ...
An undated photo of Amelia "Mia" Suzanne Claypool. She was shot and killed by her boyfriend on June 27, 2019, outside a house party in Henderson. A chemical engineering student at University of Nevada, Reno, Claypool was home in Las Vegas for summer break at the time of her death. (Claypool family)

At the time of the shooting, Claypool had been visiting home for summer break. A 2018 Coronado High School graduate and longtime competitive cheerleader, she had just wrapped up her freshman year at University of Nevada, Reno, and was set to return this fall.

The victim’s mother, Lee Ann Pretto, said Wednesday during her statement that her daughter — the youngest of three siblings — had chosen to follow in her older brother’s footsteps and was studying chemical engineering.

“The loss is heavy. The death of Mia is crushing. It shatters our hearts,” Pretto said, crying. “I had to make that phone call to UNR, to the dean, to withdraw her from all the classes she had registered for.”

But none of her family members would have been surprised had she eventually changed course, instead becoming a civil rights lawyer.

“She was a bright light. She was born and destined to be a civil rights attorney,” her father said. “But we’ll never know how she would have changed the world and the lives she would have impacted.”

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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