Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Girlfriend Takes Plea Deal in Accidental Fatal Shooting
Police had ruled the fatal shooting at a Boca Raton party an accident. But people at the party had been drinking, and Sheriff’s toxicologists say 20-year old Erin Steele had a very high level of marijuana in her system, when she pointed a gun at her boyfriend, and pulled the trigger.
22-year old Justin Holt died from the gunshot wounds.
On Tuesday, Steele, now 21, was in court, taking a plea deal, giving her a year of house arrest on a monitor, followed by another six years of probation.
The shooting happened at a Boca Raton apartment complex on December 1, 2013. Police said the young people at the party had been 'dry firing' the gun while it was unloaded.
But prosecutors said the weapon's owner, Joshua Henry, did not tell anyone he had loaded the gun. Unaware of a bullet in the chamber, Steele picked up the gun and fired at Justin.
Use of non-prescription drugs and alcohol will be prohibited during Steele’s probation. If Steele successfully follows all probation terms, adjudication will be withheld.
Steele was in custody, following a revocation of her bond last month, due to an arrest in Broward County. Prosecutor Cheryl Caracuzzo said Steele appeared to be under the influence, and fought with officers, during the incident.
Saying she wants Erin to receive help for her substance abuse problem, Caracuzzo agreed to the plea deal with no jail time. But the prosecutor cautioned violating probation would find Steele facing a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Later in another hearing, Caracuzzo told the judge she's offering a similar deal to the gun owner, Henry. However, Henry's attorney said he would file a motion to have his client’s case dismissed.