The Wilton man who left his handgun and ammunition where his son and another child found it — one of whom ended up dead — pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to give up his guns and pay a fine, but will serve no jail time, despite the urging of the victim’s father.
Edward O’Rourke, 58, had a 9-millimeter handgun and ammunition under clothing in a bedroom dresser drawer. His son, then 12, and Nicholas Naumkin, also 12 and from Wilton, found the handgun.
O’Rourke’s son, whom The Daily Gazette is not identifying, was playing with the gun when it fired accidentally, hitting the Naumkin boy in the head. He died at Albany Medical Center Hospital that night.
Yuri Naumkin, the father of Nicholas Naumkin, asked the court to send O’Rourke to jail for the maximum of one year. He said O’Rourke’s carelessness led to his son’s tragic death.
City Judge Jeffrey Wait explained he had read Naumkin’s impact statement and found it “very compelling.” But he said if O’Rourke did not agree to plead guilty as charged, the case would have gone to trial in City Court.
The outcome of such a trial could be acquittal and, if a jury convicted him, O’Rourke could appeal the case and it could be overturned. He has agreed not to appeal as part of his plea of guilty to misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
“If I were to insist on a period of incarceration, we would have a jury trial,” Wait said. He said this would mean the Naumkin family and the O’Rourke family would have to sit through hours of testimony, recalling “every single horrible detail.”
The case, which has been in the courts for more than a year, was transferred from Wilton Town Court to Saratoga Springs City Court.
Wait said that the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office and O’Rourke’s attorney, Jeffrey Bagnoli, of Mechanicville, reached an agreement that O’Rourke would plead guilty to the endangering charge, forfeit his handgun and other firearms, but not serve any jail time. He also was fined $250 in surcharges.
O’Rourke has already forfeited his firearms and his handgun license, Bagnoli said. Assistant District Attorney Debra Kaelin, who prosecuted the case, said her office would not accept anything but a guilty plea to the charge, an “admission of responsibility.”
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