Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Little Girl/Skunk Shooter Gets to Keep his Guns

Local news reports, further to our earlier story in which we called his charges a "slap on the wrist."  Greg insisted that even with the lesser charges the guy would become disqualified for gun ownership.

A Mercer County man pleaded and was sentenced Monday for accidentally shooting his young relative after mistaking her for a skunk.

Thomas Edward Grant, 25, of 35 Lightcap Lane, Jackson Center, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment.

A charge of aggravated assault was dismissed in February after a judge agreed with a defense motion claiming there was “proof of malice” on Grant’s part to support the felony charge.

Beaver County Judge Harry Knafelc sentenced Grant to serve two years’ probation and to pay restitution to the victim’s family. Grant’s hunting privileges have also been revoked during his probation.

Grant’s attorney, Steven Valsamidis, said the victim’s family was in agreement with the plea and sentencing.

Grant was charged by New Sewickley Township police following the shooting the night of Oct. 20 at his mother’s Brewer Road home. Police said Grant fired a gun thinking he was shooting at a skunk when there was actually an 8-year-old girl wearing a black-and-white Halloween costume who was playing hide-and-seek in the distance.

It seems Greg's comment was not only dripping with condescension but actually wrong.

Mikeb, if you'd try some basic research, you'd look smarter. In Pennsylvania, it's illegal for anyone convicted of a crime of violence to own a firearm.

Your unwillingness to look at simple facts is one reason that you'll never succeed in your goals.

As I said initially, the gun-rights fanatics take care of their own.  Charges are reduced in order to allow the negligent and dangerous gun owner to continue owning guns.  I realize some of them learn their lesson and for the rest of their lives are extremely careful.  But, I also realize that the person who demonstrates the carelessness and stupidity to do something dangerous with a gun often cannot learn any better.  It's in his nature.

It's disgraceful and what's even more disgraceful is guys like Greg lie about it insisting it's just not true.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. Mikeb, why are you being a jackass? Is it because I showed how you were wrong about that Puerto Rico thing?

    The charges here were reduced. Now you say that's because the system wants to protect this man's gun rights, but that's just not so. Lots of charges get reduced to speed things up or to keep the prisons available for pot smokers.

    But you say I lied. We're talking about clarifying details, not lies and truths. Grow up, would you?

    1. Greg, I expected a comment like that from you, Mr. incapable-of-admitting-a-mistake.

      Simple assault is a violent crime, is it not? The guy is prohibited from hunting DURING HIS PROBATION, is he not?

      You were wrong about the PA law, were you not?

      These are yes or no questions.

    2. Ahem--incapable of admitting a mistake? That sounds more like you on the Puerto Rico thing Mikey.

      As for "crime of violence", it's what we call a term of art, and no, simple assault doesn't typically qualify.

      As for your charges that Greg was wrong about the PA law, see my other comment.

    3. Well, if you noticed, the last comment about Puerto Rico was when I suggested that Greg cited the single lone example of it being mentioned during the Camacho thing. Greg has been scouring the archives to prove me wrong on that, but to no avail, apparently. Jamaica is the one which has often been mentioned.

      Is that your lawyerly opinion? Assault is not a crime of violence? Please spare us the lengthy justification of that absolute nonsense. I'm not interested. I already know where you're coming from.

    4. Mikeb, you're impossible. I gave you links to examples of where Puerto Rico has been mentioned on your blog, and without bothering to read it, you say that I didn't do it. Read my comments on those articles.

    5. Puerto Rico can be handled in the thread that started in.

      Regarding Crimes of Violence, etc. It's pretty obvious that even a simple assault is a violent crime (though the level of violence can be pretty low like a slap), but it doesn't fall under the legal definition of a crime of violence that disqualifies one from owning a firearm.

      The law is full of these "terms of art" that have meanings that sometimes don't match their apparent meaning in plain language.

      Obfuscate all you want, make implications, etc. It doesn't make you right.

  2. Greg's statement was a true statement of the law. Had this gone to trial (a not guilty plea followed by a trial) the guy probably would have lost his rights for good.

    Instead, with this nolo plea deal, it looks similar to cases in TN where someone is given Judicial Diversion. I don't know the Pennsylvania law or the details of this case, but that would be the place to start looking if one wanted to get to the bottom of understanding what happened here.

    Under cases in Tennessee where diversion is granted, the person goes on probation for a certain period after, usually, a nolo plea. During the probation, they lose their gun rights as if convicted of the crime. After the probation is up, provided they didn't violate the terms, the conviction is expunged, rights are restored, and the person's record is left simply noting that they received judicial diversion and cannot be given such a chance again.

    In summary, Greg correctly stated the severity of the charges. What happened here was a judge using his prerogative, under the law, to give this guy a second chance.

    If you have a problem here, it's with the plea bargaining system and the powers we grant to judges--the execution and application of the law. There's nothing wrong in what Greg said; there was no way for him to predict how the judge would apply his prerogative. Greg gave an accurate statement of the law, and you owe him an apology for this hatchet job that paints him as a liar.

    1. T., your passionate defense of Greg sounds like bullshit to me. You're lawyerly skills don't work around here. The original argument between me and Greg was when I said the guy would get a slap on the wrist. Greg disputed that and now you're getting him (Greg) off on a technicality.

      You're right about one thing. I blame the plea bargaining system and the lawyers who make it work for negligent idiots with guns.

    2. Lawyerly skills don't work around here? Then what on earth is Laci doing writing articles and commenting? Oh, right, he's lacking in lawyerly skills.

    3. You are misrepresenting the argument in question. You said that the charges had been reduced to something that wouldn't result in the loss of rights. Greg pointed out that the charges would have that result according to the letter of the law.

      Now, you're calling him a liar, when what he said was true, but the court further reduced the punishment according to the judge's discretion. You can bask in the glow of being right, that the guy keeps his gun rights after probation is up (provided he doesn't violate), but you're still in the wrong for calling Greg a liar.

      As for your comments, I hate the plea bargaining system too, even though I do almost no criminal law. It's a joke. Plenty of violent people go free while the jails fill with people serving mandatory minimum sentences for malum prohibidum crimes.