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Press Release: No charges in death of sheriff's deputy's daughter, 6/25/10

June 25, 2010

Bradford R. Fenocchio

District Attorney

 

PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240

Roseville, California 95678

916 543-8000

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

For Immediate Release

Date: June 25, 2010                        

 

Contact:

                        Art Campos

                        Public Information Officer

                        916 543-8076

 

                        Karin Bjork

                        Supervising Deputy District Attorney

                        916 543-8000

 

 

NO CHARGES WILL BE FILED AGAINST DEPUTY

IN DEATH OF HIS THREE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER

 

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office will not be filing criminal charges against a sheriff’s deputy whose three-year-old daughter accidentally and fatally shot herself with a gun that she’d taken from a storage safe in the family garage in Roseville.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Karin Bjork said she could not conclude that the officer, Kenneth Skogen, had acted in a grossly negligent manner in his storage of firearms in the household.

“After reviewing the police reports, which included interviews and officer observations, the 911 tapes, photographs of the scene and the autopsy report, and then applying the law, this office has determined that no charges will be brought against Mr. Skogen,” Bjork said.

At issue was whether Skogen had violated California Penal Code Section 12035, which deals with negligent storage of firearms.

“The statute itself emphasizes that it is the Legislature’s intent that a parent of a child who dies as the result of an accidental shooting shall be prosecuted only in those instances in which the parent behaved in a grossly negligent manner or where similarly egregious circumstances exist,” Bjork said.

“Gross negligence is more than inattention, mistaken judgment or misadventure. After thoroughly reviewing all of the available facts, there is no evidence that Mr. Skogen acted in a grossly negligent manner.”

Bjork said the evidence showed that Skogen kept all of his firearms, including his work-issued weapons, stored in a locked gun safe in the garage.

Witnesses told investigators that they had never seen a negligently-stored firearm at the Skogen home. In addition, the household itself showed that the Skogens employed various other child safety features.

According to Bjork, the shooting incident unfolded in the following manner:

At about 5 p.m. on April 20, Kenneth Skogen, who was off duty, was in the garage cleaning two of his firearms. Two cars were parked in the garage and Skogen’s daughter, Kalli, 3, was playing inside one of the vehicles. Kalli’s mother was asleep inside the home.

Skogen was cleaning two rifles in preparation for a range shooting program that he would be required to take the following day. All of his other weapons were in the gun safe.

The off-duty deputy was standing next to the gun safe and had the rifles resting on the closed trunk of one of the cars that was backed up to the safe in the garage.

Skogen, having just opened the gun safe to store the rifles in it, was placing the long guns in a rifle case. The evidence is consistent with him having his back turned momentarily to the safe as he handled the rifles sitting on the car trunk.

During that moment of inattention, Kalli got out of the car and wandered over to the gun safe. Kalli reached into the safe and took out a Springfield Armory .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

“The evidence shows that Kalli would have had to use her thumbs to pull the trigger as the gun was pointing at her and she was possibly holding the weapon upside down against her body,” Bjork said.

The single shot went through the right side of her abdomen. Skogen immediately called 911.

Bjork noted that the California Rules of Court establish a set of objectives for the prosecution and sentencing of criminals – objectives that would not appear to be achieved in a prosecution of Kenneth Skogen.

These objectives include: 1) protecting society, 2) punishing the defendant, 3) encouraging the defendant to lead a law-abiding life in the future and to deter the defendant from committing future offenses, 4) deterring others from criminal conduct and 5) preventing a defendant from committing new crimes by having the defendant incarcerated.

Bjork said Skogen “is not a threat to society and there is no punishment that a court could ever impose against him that would equal the loss of his daughter.”

“Mr. Skogen is not a career criminal who needs to be steered toward leading a crime-free life, and society will be safe without having him incarcerated,” Bjork said. “We also believe that the publicity about Kalli’s tragic death will accomplish more in regard to deterring unsafe gun storage than would any incarceration of Mr. Skogen.

“Given these circumstances, this office will not bring charges against Kenneth Skogen.”

           

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