Teen charged with shooting stepbrother

Published: Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at 11:15 p.m.
OCALA - Sheriff's deputies arrested and charged a 13-year-old boy Wednesday in the accidental, nonfatal shooting of his 6-year-old stepbrother.
The 6-year-old, James Conley, was shot in both hands at his home around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when he and his stepbrother were playing with a handgun they found under their parents' bed, according to Marion County Sheriff's Office reports.
Deputies charged Jesse Rowe, 13, with possession of a firearm by a minor under 18. He is being held in the Marion County Juvenile Assessment Center.
Conley was transported by ambulance to Munroe Regional Medical Center. Conley's injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, Sheriff's Office spokesman Lenny Uptagraft said.
When deputies responded to the boys' home at 24 Carry Back Road in the Meadowbrook Farms subdivision near Dunnellon, Rowe told deputies the boys had been playing with a .357-caliber Magnum revolver they found under their parents' bed. Both parents, Larry and Deborah Conley, were at work when the shooting occurred, Uptagraft said.
Larry Conley's sister, identified by Uptagraft as Heather Howell, was baby-sitting at the time.
According to Uptagraft, the gun had been a Christmas present from Larry Conley to his wife.
When the boys found the revolver, it apparently was unloaded, Uptagraft said. Rowe later found a bullet, and loaded it into the pistol, he added.
The State Attorney's Office will review the case, probably next week, to determine what charges, if any, are appropriate, Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway. If the gun wasn't loaded when the boys found it, Larry and Deborah Conley won't face charges, Ridgway said.
"The statute is very specific as to the parents' culpability. The gun must be loaded," he said. "If it was not left loaded, then the parents are not culpable."
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