A 23-year-old man was sentenced Thursday for playing around with guns in a Burnsville home and fatally shooting one of his friends in the head.

Derrick W. Dahl, of Apple Valley, received a stayed prison sentence of 48 months and was placed on probation for 10 years in the killing of Benjamin A. Hanson, 22, of Welch, Minn. Dakota County District Judge Erica MacDonald handed down the sentence.

As conditions of probation, Dahl was ordered to serve 90 days in jail (minus four days for time served) and pay restitution. Dahl pleaded guilty in May to second-degree manslaughter.

County Attorney James Backstom, in a statement, said, "This was a preventable death that could easily have been avoided if two of the most basic gun safety maxims had been followed: You should always assume a gun is loaded, and you should never point a gun at another person."

Police officers arrived at the home in the 500 block of E. Crystal Lake Road after a 911 call from the home by resident Joseph Sullivan, 23. Dahl admitted that he and the other two were pointing empty guns at each other.

At one point, Dahl said, he picked up a handgun and aimed it at Hanson. He pulled the trigger and struck Hanson in the head. Dahl said he was unfamiliar with guns and didn't know it was loaded.

Officers found Hanson on the floor in a kitchenette, and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. He died the next day.

Police discovered two handguns left on counters, another handgun in a gun case and several long guns in an unlocked case.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482