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Community service work for man who accidently discharged weapon downtown

Posted: July 25, 2012 - 11:07pm

A local man was sentenced this month to serve 25 hours of community service work for accidently discharging a weapon in downtown Juneau in April.

Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy also imposed 40 days of prison with all time suspended, meaning there’s no time to serve, and one year of probation.

Police arrested Caleb A. Smith, 21, after receiving a report of a single gunshot in the area of North Franklin and Second Streets around 2 a.m. on April 14. In an earlier release, police said they found Smith walking on Franklin carrying two rifles and a pistol.

According to police citations, Smith admitted he inadvertently discharged a 12-gauge shotgun in the air while trying to unload the weapon in the parking lot at North Franklin and Third Streets. He was intoxicated and had an alcohol content level of .15 percent, according to the citations. Several people were in the area at the time, the citation specified.

Smith was charged with two counts of fourth-degree weapons misconduct for possessing a firearm while intoxicated and for firing recklessly. Those are both class ‘A’ misdemeanors that can carry up to a year in prison.

He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment, but changed his plea July 12 during a scheduled status hearing.

In accordance with a plea agreement, he pleaded to possessing a firearm while intoxicated, and the firing recklessly charge was dismissed.

Smith declined to address the court when given the opportunity, and he could not be reached for comment.

Smith’s attorney, Kevin Higgins, told the judge during the hearing that his client was at the gun range with his friends earlier that evening, but didn’t have time to properly case his weapons before he left. He placed them in a car, drove downtown to a friend’s house and began drinking, Higgins said.

As the night progressed, Smith grew increasingly concerned about leaving the firearms in the car and went to retrieve them to bring them inside the house, Higgins said.

He handled the weapon when he shouldn’t have been, didn’t properly check the safety when he was trying to unload the weapon before bringing it into the house, and discharged the weapon, Higgins said. “He’s here taking responsibility for it.”

Higgins noted his client doesn’t have a criminal history, and doesn’t like to be thought of as someone who can’t properly handle firearms.

“It’s going to be a lesson he takes home with him,” Higgins said.

The judge told Smith that he was “just barely able to drink” legally, and that he must plan ahead in the future and be more careful.

“Could have been a lot worse,” Levy said.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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