I can see where mistakes were made by both sides in this case - a non-certified juvenile as a range officer on the defendants' side and a father letting an 8 year old boy shoot a fully automatic maching gun on the other.
Sounds to me like both sides fucked up, but I really have to question the judgement of a father that would let his son shoot that kind of weapon. I mean, at 8 years old I was still shooting a single shot bolt action 22 LR and even then only under the extremely close supervision of my dad or an NRA range instructor.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- A gun fair organizer was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges Friday in the 2008 death of an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi at a machine gun expo in western Massachusetts.
A Hampden Superior Court jury found former Pelham, Mass., Police Chief Edward Fleury not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of furnishing machine guns to minors in the death of Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn. The charges carry up to 50 years in prison.
Fleury's firearms training company co-sponsored the annual Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, about 10 miles west of Springfield. Christopher was shooting a 9 mm micro Uzi at pumpkins on Oct. 26, 2008, when the gun kicked back and shot him in the head. The jury was shown a graphic video of the accident, taken by the boy's father, that led to a collective gasp in the courtroom.
The 53-year-old Fleury cried and hugged his attorney and his family after the verdicts were read, while several of Christopher's relatives walked quickly out of the courtroom without commenting.
Fleury said he regretted holding the machine gun shoot and will never do it again.
"I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to the Bizilj family," Fleury said in a courthouse hallway to a throng of TV cameras and reporters. "It was always meant to be an educational event for people and it's unfortunate this terrible accident happened."
He said his arrest and the trial were devastating to him, and that he would rather be "dropped into hell than go through this again."
His wife, Jacalyn, added, "I'm glad to have my husband back. He's an innocent man."
One juror declined to immediately comment Friday, and messages were left for several other jury members.
Prosecutor William Bennett said he wouldn't have done anything differently. He said he believed the organizers of the event were the people responsible for the boy's death.
"We had a fair trial," Bennett said. "We were able to make our case. The jury has spoken. We will live with that verdict."
Asked why Christopher's father, who let his two sons fire the Uzi, wasn't charged, Bennett said, "I thought he was punished enough."
Bennett said he will now consider what to do with the cases of two co-defendants, Domenico Spano of New Milford, Conn., and Carl Giuffre of Hartford, Conn., who have machine gun licenses and brought the Uzi and other automatic weapons to the expo that day. Both have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Bennett said he will be meeting with a judge on Tuesday to discuss those cases.
Bennett had argued that Fleury was criminally reckless in running the event because he allowed children to illegally shoot machine guns under the supervision of a firing range officer who was 15 at the time and didn't have a firearms license or certification.
Fleury's lawyer, Rosemary Curran Scapicchio, denied the allegations and blamed the boy's father, emergency room Dr. Charles Bizilj, for allowing Christopher and his then-11-year-old brother Colin to shoot such a dangerous weapon. Scapicchio noted that Charles Bizilj signed a waiver at the expo acknowledging the risks, including death, and absolving anyone of liability if something bad happened.