A Laurel man accused of shooting his best friend with a handgun he believed was unloaded has been charged in District Court with negligent homicide.
Prosecutors recently filed the charge against James Daniel Nelson, 24, for the shooting death Sept. 3 of Jake Haun.
Nelson has not been arrested and is expected to appear voluntarily in court for arraignment later this month.
Haun, 19, died in the basement of his parents' house in Laurel after being shot with a 9 mm pistol.
Police have released few details of the shooting, but in court records prosecutors describe how seemingly harmless horseplay with firearms turned deadly.
Nelson thought pistol wasn't loaded
The charge filed against Nelson alleges that he negligently caused Haun's death when, "without verifying, pointed what he believed to be an unloaded Springfield XD 9 mm pistol at the victim and pulled the trigger."
Haun was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the affidavit, the two men were best friends who often met at Haun's parents' house to play video games through the night. On the morning of the shooting, Haun met Nelson at the house at 1:30 a.m. and the two played video games in the basement.
Nelson told investigators that at about 4:30 a.m. the two men took a break from the games and began handling a rifle and the pistol. Nelson said he took apart the rifle while Haun worked with the semiautomatic handgun, taking it apart and then reassembling the firearm.
Nelson said he was busy working on the rifle and did not pay much attention to Haun. Nelson said he did not recall seeing Haun put the magazine back in the pistol and assumed that the firearm was unloaded, court records state.
When they returned to playing video games, Nelson said, he set the rifle against the couch and the pistol was on the couch between the two men.
Nelson said that while waiting during delays in the video game, Haun would pick up the unloaded rifle, point it at his leg or knee and pull the trigger.
"At one point during the video game delay (Nelson) grabbed the 9mm, which he assumed did not have a chambered round and pointed it at (Haun) and pulled the trigger," the affidavit states.
Screaming for help
The bullet hit Haun in the chest. Nelson said Haun attempted to stand up, but then lay on the floor. Nelson "threw the pistol and started screaming for help."
Haun's mother, Cindy, told officers she heard the men in the basement laughing shortly after 5 a.m. She said she went to the basement entry and told the men to be quiet and returned to bed.
Haun's parents said they were then awakened a short time later by a gunshot. Donald Haun said he went to the basement and found his son on the floor. Nelson told him the shooting was an accident, Donald Haun told police.
Prosecutors said Nelson gave a statement shortly after the shooting and agreed to provide a breath sample to determine if he had been drinking.
The test result was negative, and there was no evidence of drug or alcohol use at the scene of the shooting, court records state.