Friday, September 7, 2012

Accidental Shooting - Florida 13-year-old Gets the Book Thrown at Her

Local news reports

A 13-year-old girl was charged with aggravated child abuse and grand theft in the accidental shooting last month of a Clearwater teenager.

Clearwater police say Taylor Alexa Compton and other juveniles, who were playing with a gun they had stolen, did not know it was loaded when she intended to scare Ryan Greenlee but shot him accidentally on Aug. 2.

The Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun had been stolen from an unlocked vehicle in the 1200 block of Highland Avenue, police said. Detectives said Compton and Justin Tyler Hemphill, 15, were responsible for the armed vehicle burglary as well as other vehicle burglaries.

Compton and Hemphill are charged with armed burglary (vehicle), grand theft of a firearm and dealing in stolen property - all felonies.

Police said the adults in the home had no knowledge of the gun or involvement in the shooting.
I have a few problems with this story.

1. Aggravated child abuse is the wrong charge when one child harms another. A conviction on a charge like that carries an unfair stigma. 

2. Armed vehicle burglary is misleading when applied to taking something out of an unlocked car.

3. The irresponsible gun owner who made the theft of the gun so easy by not even locking the care should be charged with reckless endangerment or failure to safely store a firearm or something.

4. The adults in the home who had no knowledge of what was going on should be charged with negligence. Parental supervision is essential.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. 1. I think the charge is a good charge, it sets a good example.

    2. I think the charge is a good charge.

    3. If theft were punished much more harshly then people just might not have to lock their doors at all like it used to be. NO, the owner shouldn't be charged. I say chop off offenders hands for theft.

    4. You are whacked out of your mind on this one.

    1. Don't you think people should responsibly secure their firearms?

      Don't you think the owners of a house should be responsible for what goes on in there my minor children?

  2. This is why we tell you that you're insane. You whimper about what these thugs have been charged with--because we mustn't hurt a criminal's feelings, right?--and want to punish everyone else available in this case. Why didn't you call for charges against the shooting victim? After all, he must have done something to annoy the thugs.

  3. 1. The child should face charges, though I'm not certain that is the right charge. There are PLENTY of comparable cases where the kids that shot the gun aren't charged at all, so there is a lot of ununiform penalization on this subject out there.

    2. Whether the car is locked or not, it's still burglary. WHICH form of burglary she should be charged with -- I don't know.

    3. Yes, the gun owner should at least face a fine. Sadly, in most states, there's no regulation on HOW a gun should be charged, so you are allowed to leave a loaded gun just about anywhere in a home or car without regard for the lives of others or the possibility of it being stolen and used by criminals. Very irresponsible. Gun owners themselves should advocate for stronger storage requirements, since instances like this one give gun rights a black eye.

    4. ABSOLUTELY the parents should be held responsible for their daughter's behavior, and should face criminal punishment. The gun guys themselves often make this point... until we do (then suddenly they are against it, as they are here). Parents must be responsible for their children and must pay the consequence when they aren't.

    1. 1. Prosecutors don't mind adding gun charges when there's a list of other charges. These kids committed multiple crimes, unlike a case when a person has an accident with his own gun.

      2. Correct. I get the sense from the story that this isn't their first rodeo. That may be what the armed robbery charge relates to.

      3. We're not going to advocate your position. We've found that gun control freaks refuse to compromise on anything, so we have to adopt the same inflexibility. But while leaving a car unlocked isn't the smart thing to do, it should never be a crime. It's the owner's property.

      4. I don't know enough about the story to say one way or the other. (The link isn't working at the moment.) It's not clear to me where the kids were at the time. Ages thirteen and fifteen, though, are old enough to understand right and wrong, so I'd put the bulk of the responsibility on these thugs.

    2. They were in the basement of one of their homes, I think the girl's, with other friends. From the following article, a neighbor said of the parents: "Their mom is barely home. They throw parties, smoke, drink."

    3. You're right to say that that home has problems--sounds like negligence to me. Unlike some of the other stories about children who get shot, this gun didn't apparently belong to the parents, though. The neglect here is long-standing.