Gun owner in shooting unlikely to be charged

Published 10:51 am Friday, April 1, 2016

According to District Attorney Dee Bates, it’s unlikely that the owner of a gun that was fired in a fatal shooting early Sunday would be charged.

James Wesley Blazier, 17, was fatally shot at a residence on Hwy. 550 in what officials have described as an accident.

Steven Brody Evans, of 1105 N. Jackson St., was charged with manslaughter in the incident. A group of students was having a party Saturday night and at some point began to handle firearms, Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said. Evans was holding a pistol when it discharged and struck Blazier in the head, he said. The homeowners were out of town at the time of the party.

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Culpable negligence — the disregard or indifference to the safety of human life — is the definition of manslaughter in Mississippi.

“Just leaving a gun in your home per se that’s loaded doesn’t mean that you’re culpably negligent,” Bates said. “As a general blanket statement, (you are not) being sent to prison because you have a gun that’s loaded in your house — I have a gun loaded in my house. It’s locked in a safe that I can get to.”

Blazier, a student at Enterprise Attendance Center student, died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center following the shooting.

Evans, 17, will appear in Justice Court Monday. Justice Court will push Evans’s case to the grand jury, which meets every quarter, according to Rushing. Evans was released on a $50,000 bond Sunday afternoon, he said.

“Obviously the facts of the case will be presented to the grand jury,” Bates said. “That’s where the next step of this is going to go. When that happens will be dictated by when the investigation has been completed.”