The teenager who worked at a gun show where 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj accidentally killed himself while shooting an Uzi testified yesterday he twice suggested the boy's father pick a less powerful weapon for the boy to shoot.
But Christopher's father, Dr. Charles Bizilj, insisted that his son be allowed to fire the automatic weapon, Michael Spano told the court. Spano was 15 at the time of the 2008 Massachusetts gun expo and was put in charge of allowing people to fire the 9 mm Micro Uzi, a submachine gun that fires 20 rounds a second.
Former Pelham, Mass., police chief Edward Fleury is on trial for the boy's death because he organized the gun expo. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.
The judge did dismiss a juror yesterday, although the reason for removal was not disclosed. The woman was seen crying during a private discussion with the judge and lawyers. There are 15 remaining jurors, including three alternates.
The most dramatic moment of the trial came Thursday when the court watched video recorded by Charles Bizilj of the boy handling the gun. The father, who was on the stand at the time, closed his eyes as the video showed the boy struggling to handle the gun's recoil. The barrel reared up and shot the boy in the head. The court room gasped and the boy's mother left the courtroom in tears.
The family may have to relive that moment again in painstaking detail. The prosecution has asked that the video be played again, this time frame by frame. The judge has not yet ruled on that request.
Spano told the court yesterday that the Micro Uzi was a very popular model at the gun expo and had been requested by Fleury.
The teenager said police were at the expo and were aware that children were shooting the weapons.
During Spano's testimony yesterday he said that he warned Christopher's father about the gun prior to giving it to Christopher. Initially Spano had offered Christopher a gun that shot only one round at a time, but Dr. Bizilj asked him to give his son a fully automatic weapon that would shoot continuously, Spano said.
The teenager said he suggested for a second time that a non-automatic weapon would be better for the boy, but the father dismissed his concern.
"You trusted Mr. Bizilj to make the best decisions for his children?" defense attorney Rosemary Curran Scapicchio asked. Spano said he did.
"And no one stopped an 8-year-old from shooting, is that fair to say?" Scapicchio asked. Spano agreed.
Spano said he put the gun in Christopher's hands. "He began to shoot. As I remember he was shooting fine. Something happened. It came back and shot him in the face," Spano said.
Scapicchio maintains that Fleury should not be held responsible for Christopher's death. "[The father] had the opportunity to ask questions and he chose not to," she told ABCNews.com.
She said the father "had the authority at all times to stop the shooting, and he chose not to."
Spano is the son of Domenico Spano who is also charged with involuntary manslaughter for his role in providing the guns at the expo. A third man, Carl Guiffre, faces identical charges. Both men have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.
State police Sgt. John Crane told the court that the gun wasn't being properly held by the boy to control the kick of such a powerful gun, and that Christopher looked inexperienced and unsure of where to place his hands.
"The recoil on this gun is considerable," Crane said. "This weapon fires very quickly. The rate of fire is tremendous."
Crane said he did not arrest anyone the day of the shooting."The weapon was not safe for the child to fire," he told Scapicchio during the final comments of the day. The trial will resume on Monday.
Buffy Spencer of The Republican newspaper and MassLive.com contributed to this report