A 22-year-old St. Louis County man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for killing his girlfriend.

Benjamin Wilkinson was sentenced Monday. He was convicted in December of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. Wilkinson was originally charged with second-degree murder in the February 2015 shooting death of 25-year-old April Ward at a home in Bella Villa.

Ward's two young children were asleep in another room at the time of the shooting, and were unharmed.

Wilkinson asked for forgiveness from Ward's family during the sentencing hearing. He has claimed he and Ward were playing a game with a handgun when she was unintentionally shot, though Ward's family has doubted that defense.

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