It just can’t be said too many times: guns are not toys. As our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense lawyers know, firearms can be deadly, and they present a danger to anyone living in or visiting a home in which a firearm is kept.
A story that emanated from Broward County last week highlights the true dangers of fooling around with guns; apparently, two 14-year-olds were playing with a gun when the firearm went off and killed one of the two friends.
In addition to demonstrating the risks associated with keeping guns in the home, this case serves as a reminder that just because someone is shot and killed does not mean that there was malicious intent and, as such, in many cases, a charge such as manslaughter is far more applicable than a charge of murder.
According to reports, two 14-year-old friends, Eric Palacios and Charlie Martin, came across a handgun (belonging to Palacios’ stepfather) in a gun carrying case, which was inside a cardboard box in a garage detached from Palacios’ home. Both teenagers were fooling around with the gun and pulling the trigger, but when the fatal shot was fired, the gun was in Palacios’ hand and the bullet struck Martin in the head, killing him. As our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense lawyers know, Palacios told investigators that after he accidentally shot his friend, he panicked and ran from the house, never calling police or assisting his friend. He also told authorities that he had checked to make sure the gun was unloaded; when police located the gun at the home, they found the gun “loaded with 14 rounds, including one in the chamber,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
First of all, take note of where the two young teenagers found the gun: in a case, which was inside a cardboard box, which was in the garage, which was separated from the house. That might seem like a pretty good hiding spot, out of sight and out of the way, but the two teens found it anyway. As our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense lawyers know, this story shows just how important it is to have a gun locked away in a gun safe, so that children cannot access the gun even if they know where it is.
Now, on to the charge. After speaking with both Palacios and the victim’s brother for hours, authorities arrested Palacios on a count of manslaughter with a firearm. On Friday, during a hearing in Broward Circuit Court, Judge Michael Orlando mandated that Palacios be held in jail until at least the scheduled August 13 hearing, giving prosecutors time to determine how to proceed (i.e., exactly what charges to move ahead with and whether or not to charge Palacios as an adult).
In light of this incident, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a free gun safety course for children ages 11 to 14 tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4th.
If you have any questions about this tragic case or any other criminal defense issue, or if you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation.