by David Pugh, Buckeye Staff Writer
Craig A. Johnston, the 35-year-old Wauseon man who owned the shotgun that was involved in the March 14 accidental shooting death of Michael J. Schwartz, Jr., 13, Wauseon, has been found not guilty.
Johnston had been charged with negligent homicide in Fulton County Western District Court in connection with the incident
In his judgment entry filed Friday afternoon, Aug. 23, Jeffrey Robinson, Western District judge, said the shotgun was left in a room of Johnston home, at 444 Howard Avenue, Wauseon.
It was leaning against a wall, with the safety off.
Craig Johnston had left for work, leaving his son, Blade, home alone. Blade is approximately the same age as Schwartz and Felipe Villanueva, Jr., the boy who was handling the gun when it went off.
Villanueva, Wauseon, who had come to the Johnston house to walk to school with Schwartz and Blade Johnston, picked up the shotgun, said he was going to, “mess with Michael.”
Villanueva went into the living room where Schwartz was sitting, pointed the shotgun at him, and Robinson said, “apparently pulled the trigger.”
Schwartz was pronounced dead later that morning.
In his judgment entry, Robinson said Blade Johnston had been told not to allow other youth into the house when his father Craig Johnston, was not at home. Blade chose to violate the rule.
Since the defendant didn’t know other children would be in the home, and have access to the shotgun, he could not be expected to perceive a risk of someone harming another with the firearm.
“There is nothing in the record which indicates the defendant knew, or should have known his son was disregarding this rule,” Robinson said in his judgment entry.
“No one else was to be in the house.
“What perceived risk did the defendant ignore?” Robinson asked.
“The defendant had no reason to believe his son was inviting other children into his home– let alone believe these children were accessing his office where the gun was located.”
Villanueva entered a plea of “true” to a charge of juvenile delinquency by way of negligent homicide in Fulton County Juvenile Court.
“True” is the equivalent of “guilty” in adult court.
He was sentenced to 90 days at the Northwest Ohio Juvenile Detention, Training, and Rehabilitation Center. He was taken from his mother’s custody, and placed with an aunt and uncle.
He was placed in house arrest, with electronic monitoring. He was only allowed to leave the house for counseling, medical issues, and probation appointments. He was to continue his education via the Internet.
Johnston also faces charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia in Western District Court.
Wauseon Police officers allegedly found marijuana and related items in the home while they were investigating the shooting.-Posted 5:59 pm 8.24.12