By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — The attorney for Danville police Chief Wade Parsons has asked a judge to drop a firearms charge against his client, claiming the chief is not responsible for a teenage boy’s suicide.
Attorney Alan Cronheim requests that 10th Circuit Judge Michael Sullivan dismiss the negligent storage of a firearm offense, a violation punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, but no jail time.
Parsons has pleaded not guilty after his girlfriend’s 15-year-old son, Jacob Carver, shot and killed himself with the chief’s service weapon March 11. The boy, a Timberlane Regional High School student, was found dead in the chief’s home on Caramel Drive in Danville.
But Cronheim, in a motion filed with the court Jan. 15, contends Parsons is not responsible for the teen’s death and should be exonerated.
Sullivan held a pretrial conference with the attorneys in October, asking Cronheim and Assistant County Attorney Terri Harrington to submit additional information to the court before a hearing is held in late February. Parsons was not present.
Harrington said at the time that Sullivan asked for additional information on how a state firearms law, 650-C:1 (III), has been applied in past cases. The two attorneys filed a joint response, outlining the facts of the case, on Wednesday.
The law states “any person who stores or leaves on premises under that person’s control a loaded firearm, and who knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child’s parent or guardian, is guilty of a violation if a child gains access to a firearm ... .”
The Glock 22 .40-caliber handgun was left in the chief’s gunbelt, which was stored in a closet and covered with clothing, according to the attorneys. Parsons has told investigators he left the weapon in the closet before leaving to run errands.
Cronheim said the law should not apply to Parsons because the teen chose to kill himself.
“The Legislature, in choosing this language, declined to have the statute applied to circumstances where a child obtains a firearm and chooses to knowingly or purposely discharge the firearm,” he said.
Cronheim added that the Legislature did not intend to penalize the owner of a firearm in cases where a child fired the weapon without that person’s permission.
Jacob, a Timberlane freshman who wrestled and played football, was the son of Parsons’ girlfriend, Debbie Carver.