Manslaughter Charges for Utah Dad Who Left Gun Within Reach of Toddler

A Utah dad is facing manslaughter charges after leaving a loaded gun within reach of his toddler.

Loaded gun around children

Photo by: RONg

27 year old Tasman Maile, father of two, was booked into Salt Lake County jail after his two year old son got a hold of a loaded gun and shot himself in the head. The child was not expected to survive and was on life support only long enough for his organs to be collected and donated. Maile, who reportedly fell asleep while spending time with his two and seven year old had left the firearm within reach of the toddler while the gun was loaded and the safety was off. He is facing multiple charges including second degree felony manslaughter.

Reckless manslaughter

Although Maile did not intentionally cause the death of his son, his actions constituted manslaughter as he “recklessly cause[d] the death of another” as stated in Utah Code 76-5-205 due to his leaving an obviously dangerous weapon where a child too young to understand the potential hazard would be able to find it. Manslaughter is punishable as a second degree felony with a possible fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of one to 15 years, although the loss of his child will last a lifetime.

Responsible gun owners only

With almost anyone being able to purchase and own a firearm, there are responsibilities that must accompany this right. Gun owners are expected to use and store their firearms safely. Rules such as not pointing guns towards people, keeping the gun unloaded until being used, and not being under the influence of alcohol and drugs are given when possessing a firearm. One of the most important rules to ensure the safety of others however, is to never have guns accessible to children.

Napping Burglar Arrested for Possession of a Dangerous Weapon by a Restricted Person

A Utah burglar caught napping on the job was arrested for multiple charges including possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.

Napping burglar

Photo by: Ken

37 year old Thomas Luke Shupe was arrested after a woman found Shupe sleeping in her Huntsville Utah cabin after he pilfered it of beer and prescription drugs. Shupe left the scene but was later apprehended by police. While being arrested for the burglary, Shupe was also found to be in possession of a handgun that had been stolen from another cabin. Shupe was on probation following a previous arrest and as a Category I restricted person, should not have been in possession of a firearm. Shupe was arrested for several misdemeanors and second degree felonies including possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.

Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person

When someone is convicted of certain crimes, they may temporarily or permanently lose their right to possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon. This is known as being a restricted person. There are several reasons as to why someone would be considered a restricted person and there are varying degrees of severity related to those restrictions. According to Utah Code 76-10-503, “A Category I restricted person is a person who:

• Has been convicted of any violent felony . . . ;
• Is on probation or parole for any felony;
• is on parole from a secure facility . . .;
• [was charged for a violent felony as a minor within the last 10 years];
• is on probation for a conviction of possessing:
(A) a substance classified . . . as a Schedule I or II controlled substance;
(B) a controlled substance analog; or
(C) [their synthetic equivalents]”

Possession of a dangerous weapon by a Category I restricted person is a second degree felony if the weapon is a firearm or a third degree felony for other weapons. “A Category II restricted person is a person who:

• has ever been convicted of a felony; . . .
• [was charged for a felony as a minor within the last 7 years];
• . . . is in possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance [while being in possession of a weapon];
• Has been found not guilty by reason of insanity . . . or mentally incompetent to stand trial for a felony offense; . . .
• Has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces;
• Has renounced [their] citizenship . . . ;
• Is a respondent or defendant subject to a protective order or child protective order . . . ;
• Has been convicted of the commission or attempted commission of [domestic violence].”

Possession of a dangerous weapon by a Category II restricted person is a third degree felony if the weapon is a firearm or a class A misdemeanor if another weapon is used.

Know your restrictions

It is important for anyone previously charged with a crime to know their restrictions when it comes to weapons. When purchasing a firearm, a background check is usually performed that will alert gun sellers to anyone who is considered a restricted person. Unfortunately, sometimes there are flaws in the system such as what happened recently regarding the files of those found mentally incompetent not being received by the system that categorizes restricted persons. While these systems usually catch restricted persons attempting to purchase weapons, mistakes can happen which does not excuse a restricted person found in possession of a dangerous weapon. They can still face charges for possession of a weapon by a restricted person. The same goes to anyone who buys, borrows, or steals a weapon from a private party non vendor. Anyone who has been convicted of a crime should be responsible for carefully researching the terms of their probation or release to determine whether or not they will ever be allowed to own a firearm or other dangerous weapon. Restricted persons caught unlawfully with a weapon are encouraged to seek legal counsel immediately.

Armed Utah Resident Threatens Use of Deadly Force to Stop Men Fleeing Police

An armed southern Utah resident threatened use of deadly force to stop two men from fleeing police.

Armed Utah resident

Photo by: Adam Bailey

A resident in the small town of Leeds, Utah which is located 16 miles north of St. George heard a large noise on his property and went to investigate. The resident discovered two men had crashed into his fence while fleeing from police. The Leeds homeowner who was armed with a personal firearm threatened use of deadly force to keep the men detained by gunpoint until a law enforcement officer was able to take them under arrest.

Helpful, but was it justified?

The homeowner was likely alarmed by the pair of men crashing into his fence, however was he justified brandishing a firearm to keep the men from fleeing again? Fortunately for all parties involved, the pair fleeing police did not attempt to continue running or threaten the homeowner in any way. Authorities arrived shortly after and the two were booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges. Had the men tried to leave however, would the homeowner have been justified to use deadly force? Is leaving the scene a reason to defend oneself?

Threatening force in defense of person

Utah Code 76-2-402 states: “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force.” Someone crashing into a fence may be startling at first, however unless more aggressive actions were taken, it likely would not necessitate threatening use of using deadly force against the other party for them merely attempting leaving the scene. Luckily in this case, deadly force was not used and the home owner was seen as an outstanding citizen for remaining calm while helping police.

Utah laws regarding firearms

Utah residents are encouraged to study Utah laws regarding firearms, so they will know for certain:

• where they are allowed to carry firearms,
• when they are allowed to brandish a weapon; and
• When they are justified in using deadly force.

Anyone facing charges for improper use of a firearm should seek legal counsel.