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Texas Man Gets 8 Years in Shooting Death of Boy Jumping on Trampoline

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Huan Yi
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0 posted 07-04-2008 06:04 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


“Jose Barrera Espitia told investigators that he was target shooting in the backyard of his rural Hays County home in April 2007 when he accidentally hit and killed the boy, who was jumping on a trampoline. Espitia said he did not see Daniel Galicia jumping on a trampoline in his back yard before firing the .22-caliber rifle . . .

Espitia's home is about one-third of a mile from where the boy was playing with other children in his cousin's backyard. The area east of Kyle has a mix of farmland and mobile homes.”

I don’t understand.  It was a terrible accident but an accident never the less,
so why eight years?

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1 posted 07-04-2008 07:50 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

The use of the word accident here is misleading, it conveys the impression that the outcome was somehow beyond the control of the shooter. A better way of looking at it would be to ask if it was reasonable to believe that it was foreseeable and avoidable, in this case it clearly was. The shooter ignored the basic safety rule when using a firearm - always check for a suitable backstop. His disregard in this respect proves his negligence which resulted in the involuntary manslaughter of a child.

One third of a mile sounds like a long way, is it reasonable to foresee  a .22 round killing someone at that range?

The last time I shot a .22 I used subsonic (low powered) rim fire rounds, the box they came in had a warning in big letters on the side of the box saying “ dangerous to 1.5 miles”. Personally I think that’s an overstatement but I’m not willing to bet my life, or anyone else’s, by disregarding it.

I think the guy was either just plain stupid or wasn’t really thinking at the time, neither of which negates his responsibility for the death of the child. Whoever handed out the sentence probably sees it that way too - the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is, after all, 20 years - a lot more than he got.

Just my opinion.

serenity blaze
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2 posted 07-04-2008 09:37 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

We're responsible for accidents.

Life or death...we're responsible.
Bob K
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3 posted 07-05-2008 05:17 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

Dear Huan Yi,

          You don't understand because you believe it was an accident, a terrible accident, but an accident nonetheless.  It sounds as though the information you were presented supported this understanding of yours.

     Texas is, as I understand it, very supportive of the actions of gun owners, perhaps more so than other venues.  Yet a Texas jury voted to convict.

     It's been a long time since I've shot anything.  Part of my training was never, ever to shoot unless I knew where the that shot was going, even if I missed the target.  If I shot at a target there should be a backstop or berm of sufficient height behind.  I shouldn't shoot into populated areas.  If I was hunting (which I wasn't) I should know where the bullet would go; better to miss a shot than to hit an unintended target, especially a person.

     You were trained for military shooting.  Even so, I can't imagine the rules were all that different when it came to shooting outside a combat zone.

     When you start shooting without respect to proper safety, it is negligent.  You may have a right to bear arms, but nobody said you have a right to blaze away without consideration of others or their safety, did they?  If you blaze away without paying adequate attention to safety, you may well fall under the "depraved Indifference" rules for manslaughter.  

     So, accident, perhaps, terrible accident, perhaps, but also perhaps a matter of an accident that need not have happened if anything like proper caution in firearm safety and simple common sense had been followed.  It sounds as though it may have been depraved indifference.  Folks who are proud of their right to bear arms can also be proud of their skill in using them and pretty angry at people who don't show the right sort of respect for their firearms and for their neighbors as well.

     Of course, I'm speculating, Huan Yi, but a Texas Jury disagreed with you, and I suspect they'd normally be on your side here.  What's your thought?

Huan Yi
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4 posted 07-06-2008 04:21 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


I suppose I was responding
to memories of my father and I
when I was young, and with friends
briefly thereafter, “plinking” at
cans out in the country woods.  No one
had any intent other than hitting
those cans.  I suspect there are many still
with their fathers and friends out in
the country who still do it.  To take
a terribly unfortunate and unintended
result and convert it into a criminal
act simply seems wrong.

Bob K
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5 posted 07-07-2008 12:47 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

Dear Huan Yi,

           I never had that experience.  It sounds part of the formation of a close father-son bond.  But somebody has to think about where the bullet falls.  Your dad knew not to take you out into the middle of a schoolyard for practice.  Trees and underbrush won't stop everything, but it's still a lot safer than fields and trailer parks for a background.

     The Texas folk didn't give your shooter first or second degree murder; or the account doesn't give that impression.  But when somebody starts shooting in an inhabited area, one where kids live and play, you may well be counting on your rights to shield you from your responsibilities.  The results were certainly sad and terrible.  I get no sense that the man with the gun was actively trying to hurt the child.  But to shoot at targets in such an area meant the man was asserting a level of judgement that his competence and skill was clearly incapable of backing up.  His actions seem to have amounted to a level of indifference to human life that struck a Texas jury as worthy of punishment.

     There is an odd similarity between this incident and the recent incident in which a Texas man shot and killed two burglars who had apparently just finished robbing his neighbor's house.  The man who shot and killed the two burglars was acquitted, a very different outcome than this, but I believe the basic problem was the same.

     The problem is not whether the people have guns.  I am a Liberal, and would rather not have a lot of guns, especially handguns, floating around the country.  They aren't good for much but shooting at extremely limited ranges, and people seem to have taken to using them against other people.  Even so, I suspect that handguns would not be as much of a problem as they have become if people were actually trained in the discipline of their use.  Certainly people seem undertrained in the use and care of the long guns they own.

     Whether or not the gentleman who killed two burglars fleeing his neighbor's house had a legal right to do so, he is as foolish and dangerous a man as the poor guy who accidently shot the child on the trampoline and got eight years for doing so.  Discharge of a shotgun in a suburban neighborhood may be necessary, possibly, if you are under direct attack.  Even so, it is very difficult to be responsible for the path of each of those shotgun pellets, each of which may under the proper circumstances have a lethal interaction with anybody or any animal it may encounter.  

     Discharge of a shotgun at the back of fleeing suspects, whether it is within your rights or not, puts others  in jeopardy beyond the suspects themselves with no gain in safety.  A police officer would have difficulty justifying such an action because of the danger it brings to the community.

     This, I suggest, is the difference between The United States and Switzerland, both of which have very open gun laws.  In Switzerland, I'm told, each household is (or at least was until recently, and may still be) required to have and automatic rifle and twenty rounds of ammunition for it easily at hand.  The United States has a very large number of firearm deaths, the Swiss almost none.  The Swiss (the gender requirements here , I confess, I am not sure about; nor am I clear about the ages) are required to join their army, and everybody is trained in how to use their weapons and how to maintain them.  They feel themselves under firearm discipline.  

     I suspect most U.S. citizens don't really understand the concept, or such activities as the incidents we've been talking about wouldn't happen.  I think that comes from tending to skip over the "well regulated militia" language in the second amendment when we read it.  

     Or not.

     Keep in mind, after all, I'm a Liberal.  I'm trying, though, to give a reading to stuff that liberals and conservatives have usually had trouble with that tries to bring together elements from both sides.  Something that might be worth thought from everybody before everybody rejects it.  Or ignores it.


     And, Huan Yi, thanks for the thoughtful response in your last note.  I appreciated it.

Yours, BobK.
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6 posted 07-07-2008 07:03 PM       View Profile for JenniferMaxwell   Email JenniferMaxwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JenniferMaxwell

Was just thinking how’d I’d feel if I accidently killed another human being. Though I don’t think I could ever really forgive myself, perhaps eight years in prison will give Mr. Espitia some consolation or peace knowing that, at least in society’s eyes, he’s paid for his mistake. He did plead guilty to the charge of second degree involuntary manslaughter, not sure if that was part of some sort of plea bargain or not. Would be interesting to know.

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7 posted 07-09-2008 11:28 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Eight years is hardly anything compared to the loss of a life.  
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