SALEM — The judge handling the negligent firearms case of Danville police Chief Wade Parsons wants to take an in-depth look at state law before proceeding further.
Attorneys for Parsons and the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office met with Judge Michael Sullivan for a brief pretrial conference yesterday in 10th Circuit Court. Parsons was not present.
Parsons, 54, contends he is not responsible for the death March 11 of his girlfriend’s 15-year-old son, Jacob Carver, who shot and killed himself with the chief’s service weapon. The boy’s body was found in the chief’s home on Caramel Drive in Danville.
Parsons has pleaded not guilty to negligent storage of a firearm, a violation, for failing to secure his loaded handgun before leaving the house to run errands.
Sullivan is hearing the case after the prosecution asked that Judge Sharon DeVries recuse herself following comments she made in August in 10th Circuit Court in Plaistow when Parsons unexpectedly showed up for a pretrial conference.
DeVries said she had “known Chief Parsons as the Danville police chief for as long as (she) has been on the bench,” according to the motion filed by Assistant County Attorney Terri Harrington.
DeVries’ comment indicated she could not be impartial when hearing the case, Harrington said. DeVries agreed to step down Aug. 26.
After the conference yesterday in the judge’s chambers, Harrington said Sullivan requested that she provide additional information on how the firearms law, 650-C:1, has been applied in past cases.
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 ... .”
Harrington said she needs to file a “legislative history” with the court detailing the intent of legislators when they decided to pass the firearms law in 2001.
The law has only applied twice in 12 years — including a Fremont case where a young child accidentally shot and killed his father, Harrington said. Both cases led to convictions and fines, she said.
Defense attorney Alan Cronheim, who was unavailable for comment after the conference, intends to ask that the charge be dismissed, she said.
If convicted, Parsons could face a fine of up to $1,000, but no jail time. A trial date has not been set.
Rockingham County Attorney James Reams has said his office decided to charge Parsons because of the shooting’s severity and to send a message to gun owners they need to take precautions.
He said the Glock 22 .40-caliber handgun was left on top of a closet safe, where Parsons regularly stores the weapon.
Jacob, a Timberlane Regional High School freshman who wrestled and played football, is the son of Parsons’ girlfriend, Debbie Carver. The boy’s father, Geoffrey Carver, has called Parsons “very irresponsible,” but declined to comment further.