New Milford resident Domenico Spano, charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Uzi death of an 8-year-old boy, has his trial date set for Sept. 9 in Hampden Superior Court in Massachusetts.

Mr. Spano was released on his own recognizance when he was indicted in Springfield in December 2008. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Mr. Spano was one of two men who took the Uzi -- a 9 millimeter micro-submachine gun -- to a gun fair where Christopher Bizilj, of Ashford, Conn., accidentally shot himself with the weapon.

"Domenico Spano maintains his innocence," Thomas Rooke, Spano's attorney, said last week. "This is a tragic loss of life but was purely an accident and does not rise to the level of criminal behavior."

Mr. Rooke said, "The young boy's father, an emergency room trauma physician, was video-taping his son firing this weapon from a distance of 3 to 4 feet."

The attorney said he will go forward with the trial, continuing to defend Mr. Spano. He expects the jury will find Mr. Spano not guilty, he said.

The gun fair had promised in an advertisement that shooters would have certified instructors, but prosecutors said Christopher was supervised by Mr. Spano's uncertified 15-year-old son.

Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett said Mr. Spano was incorrectly assured by the owner of the sporting club that sponsored the fair that it was legal for children to use the Uzi under Massachusetts law.

Christopher lost control of the Uzi as it recoiled while he fired at a pumpkin on Oct. 26, 2008, at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo.

Mr. Bennett said Dr. Charles Bizilj selected the compact weapon for his 4-foot-3, 66-pound son to fire after he was assured it was safe. He thought the Uzi's small size made it safer, but the opposite was true, the DA said.

Mr. Bizilj was not charged because he was a layman and based his decision on information from others, who should have known it was dangerous, Mr. Bennett said.

The 15-year-old boy who supervised Christopher with the Uzi was not charged.

The Westfield Sportsman's Club took a plea deal on March 11 and is donating $10,000 to children's charities as part of the settlement.

Christopher Bizilj's family has filed a $4 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Springfield against Mr. Spano, the other man who supplied the weapon, the club, and the event's promoters. The suit is pending.

No one answered calls by The Spectrum to Mr. Spano's Lily Pond Trail home.

Contact Susan Tuz


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