Florida news website www.cbs4.com reports that the sister of a Deerfield Beach boy who was shot and killed while playing with a teenage friend last month is upset that the accused will be released on what she considers to be a low bond.
In October, the accused - who is just 17-years old - allegedly shot the 12-year old victim with a .38 caliber handgun. The shooting reportedly occurred at the accused's home. The victim died a few days later.
The accused allegedly confessed to police that he accidentally shot the victim while playing with the gun.
The other day, a judge set bond for the 17-year old accused at a little over $9,000. The prosecutor had requested a bond of $250,000.
The victim's sister has made statements to the media expressing her outrage over what she considers to be a low bond.
However, manslaughter is a bondable offense. Remember that unlike murder, manslaughter does not require an intent to kill. Manslaughter can be charged when somebody commits an act that is reckless or grossly disregards the safety of others. In this situation, two young boys playing with a loaded firearm would certainly be reckless.
But unlike murder, manslaughter is not a felony punishable by life in prison. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by 15 years in prison under Florida law. If it is alleged that a firearm was used (as is the case here), then it becomes a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years. 10-20-Life applies since this crime involves the use of a gun.
The accused's family was able to pay his bond. The Court instructed the accused that he is forbidden to possess any kind of weapon and must have no contact with the victim's family. He will also be on house arrest and must wear a GPS monitor.
Detectives originally charged the accused with attempted manslaughter as a juvenile. After the victim's death, his case was will be direct filed to adult court where he will face a number of serious charges. These charges include manslaughter with a firearm, tampering with physical evidence, and five counts of possession of a firearm by a minor.
Detectives said that the accused had a collection of weapons hidden in a suitcase under his bed. It included guns, swords, knives and brass knuckles.
This case is tragic because the victim is 12. But the justice system permits a bond in this type of case. It is understandable for the victim's family to be upset that the accused will be released pending trial, but the Court did the right thing by imposing a bond that would permit the accused to remain at home with his family.
Remember, the purpose of a bond is to ensure that the accused will appear in court. It is not the intent of the Florida legislature to use bonds to punish people or to simply keep them in jail.