No charges likely in child's shooting - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

No charges likely in child's shooting

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Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 12:25 pm | Updated: 3:24 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A San Tan Valley woman probably will not be charged in connection with her 3-year-old grandson shooting himself after finding a handgun under a couch.

Lt. Tamatha Villar, spokeswoman for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said it appears the shooting was an accident and doesn’t rise to the level of a crime.

San Tan Valley boy 'critical' from gunshot

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office will determine whether to charge the woman based on the investigation, but the sheriff’s office probably won’t recommend charges, Villar said.

The county attorney’s office has not yet received the written report, according to Kostas Kalaitzidis. 

He said his office will first determine whether a crime was committed and whether there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction.

Kalaitzidis said if those standards are met, then the case would be presented to a grand jury.

The boy shot himself in the head with a 9 mm handgun that he found underneath a couch about 11:45 a.m. Saturday in the 43000 block of North Friend Avenue.

The boy is comatose, but he is responsive to stimulus and his name.

Villar said doctors reported he is not out of the woods, and they’ll have a better grasp on the long-term effects of the injury in the next few days. 

Villar said the woman explained to investigators that she normally kept the gun in a safe place, but she stashed the gun under the couch the night before for protection after her dogs caused a commotion outside and she found no reason for their barking. 

“She completely forgot it was there,” Villar said.

David Michael Cantor, a Tempe-based defense attorney not affiliated with the case, said there is the potential for a low- or mid-level felony child abuse charge.

On the other hand, Cantor said he understands if there were no charges because the case is defensible, and county attorneys won’t seek charges if there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction.

To meet the standard of criminal negligence, a person’s actions would have to be a “gross deviation” from the standards that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. 

A clearer case of gross deviation would have been if she had ignored that the gun was there, Cantor said.

A slip of the mind is not gross deviation, he said.

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