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A Massachusetts jury acquitted a gun fair organizer of manslaughter in the 2008 death of an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi submachine gun.
A Hampden Superior Court jury found former Pelham, Mass., Police Chief Edward Fleury not guilty on Friday of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn. The charge carried up to 20 years on prison.
Fleury was also cleared of three charges of furnishing machine guns to minors.
The jury returned the verdict on its first full day of deliberations. It got the case on Thursday after closing arguments.
Fleury's firearms training company co-sponsored the annual Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, about 10 miles west of Springfield. Christopher was shooting a 9 mm micro Uzi at some pumpkins on Oct. 26, 2008, when the gun kicked back and shot him in the head.
Prosecutor William Bennett told the jury that Fleury was criminally reckless in running the event because he allowed children to illegally shoot machine guns under the supervision of a firing range officer who was 15 at the time and didn't have a firearms license or certification.
Fleury's lawyer, Rosemary Curran Scapicchio, denied the allegations and blamed the boy's father, emergency room Dr. Charles Bizilj, for allowing Christopher and his then-11-year-old brother Colin to shoot such a dangerous weapon. Scapicchio noted that Charles Bizilj signed a waiver at the expo acknowledging the risks, including death, and absolving anyone of liability if something bad happened.
Neither Charles Bizilj nor the teenage range officer, Michael Spano, were charged.
Jurors saw a graphic video of the shooting accident, taken by Charles Bizilj, that prompted a collective gasp in the courtroom.
This program aired on January 14, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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