Criminal Justice

Father faces criminal case over his 4-year-old son's slaying of playmate with unsecured gun

A father who is facing criminal charges because his 4-year-old son fatally shot a 6-year-old neighbor earlier this year has rejected a plea bargain and pleaded not guilty to six counts of child-endangerment.

Anthony Senatore, 34, of Toms River, N.J., could get as much as 15 years if he is convicted, according to the Associated Press and the Star-Ledger. The plea bargain he rejected called for a seven-year prison term.

Senatore was charged in the Ocean County Superior Court case because authorities say he failed to secure both a loaded .22-caliber rifle his son used in the slaying of his playmate and other weapons that were left with ammunition nearby. However, his lawyer says the child’s shooting should have been treated as a civil, rather than a criminal, matter.

Attorney Robert Ebberup described Senatore as “deeply horrified” by the shooting death of Brandon Holt, the Star-Ledger reports.

“My position right now is that we don’t feel that jail is something that is appropriate,” Ebberup told the newspaper after Monday’s arraignment. “I can’t comment on the plea offer. We don’t accept the plea offer as it stands today. Until we have the opportunity to fully review all the discovery that’s available to us, then we will make that determination.”

See also: “Dad faces child-endangerment and weapon charges after authorities say son, 4, shot playmate to death” “Parents of slain child want adults to keep guns secure”

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