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Parents want youth testimony in New York wrongful death case

A tragic wrongful death case is now being heard in a New York courtroom. The case revolves around two young friends who were left alone inside of a home approximately two years ago. Initially the two were playing video games, but they later found a handgun in a bedroom. They begin to load and unload the gun, and it eventually fired, striking one of the children in the head and killing him. Criminal charges resulted, as well as a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victim’s parents.

The father who had left the children home alone pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child. He has been required to give up all of his firearms and provide a DNA sample to authorities. The boy who pulled the trigger is the man’s 14-year-old son, and he faced criminal charges as well. He pleaded guilty and received probation.

Now the wrongful death case is in court, and a judge is deciding whether the child will be required to testify. The victim’s parents are pressing for the boy to take the stand to testify about the incident. They seek the full story, but the father’s defense team is against it. The parents filed the lawsuit to spur changes in state laws concerning gun storage and to help prevent other children from being exposed to the same dangers their son was.

Situations like this are understandably tragic. However, when a person’s actions are deemed negligent, the victim’s family retains the right to pursue a wrongful death claim in New York. The victim’s parents have stated they are not concerned about any money awarded, but they do want the state to recognize the dangers of leaving weapons in places where children can access them. While a wrongful death claim typically seeks restitution for financial damages suffered, in this instance the parents also hope legislators will act on the underlying issues for the benefit of all children.

Source: The Saratogian, “Wrongful death case under way in Nicholas Naumkin civil proceedings,” Lucian McCarty, Jan. 3, 2013