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Judge weighing case against Danville chief
SALEM — A judge heard arguments Monday morning and will now decide whether to drop a charge against Danville Police Chief Wade Parsons, who is accused of failing to properly store a loaded gun that was later used in a teenager’s suicide.
Salem Circuit Court Judge Michael Sullivan is expected to issue a ruling soon on whether prosecutors can move forward with a negligent storage of firearms charge against Parsons.
Parsons was charged with the violation-level offense after his girlfriend’s 15-year-old son, Jacob Carver, found the Glock-22 .40-caliber handgun in Parson’s duty belt on the night of March 11, 2013, and shot himself. The gun was left sitting on a duffel bag and covered with clothing inside a closet at the chief’s Danville home.
At the hearing on a motion to dismiss the case, Parsons’ lawyer, Alan Cronheim of Sisti Law Offices, argued prosecutors brought the charge based on a state law that doesn’t apply in this case because the death resulted from a suicide.
Under the law, RSA 650-C:1, a person can be charged if a child gains access to a loaded firearm and the firearm is “negligently or recklessly discharged.”
Cronheim maintains that this case is different because the child intentionally, or “purposely,” fired the gun.
But Assistant Rockingham County Attorney Terri Harrington argued that the law is a “child safety law” and the teenager’s state of mind at the time of the shooting doesn’t matter.
What matters, she insisted, is that the firearm wasn’t properly secured and a child under the age of 16 was able to access it.
“We all can agree that this particular case is probably more emotional than others involving a discharge of a firearm. I would ask that the court not only use the legal line but also use its general common sense as well, that we have some measure of accountability of what happened on the date in question,” Harrington said.
Jacob’s father, Geoffrey Carver, and the boy’s 19-year-old sister, Sophia, attended the hearing and were hoping for an immediate ruling, but the judge took the case under advisement and will issue a decision soon.
“It just seems frustrating because of his extensive training that he would be negligent enough to leave a loaded firearm in the house with a 15-year-old boy all by himself. I know when I was 15 I was curious,” Geoffrey Carver said of Parsons outside the courtroom.
He is still convinced that his son’s death was an accident and not a suicide, as the medical examiner concluded.
“There were no signs of any of that. He was always outgoing. He wasn’t withdrawn. He was actually excelling in school. He was talking his future. Even on the day of the accident he was talking about his future,” he said.
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