Daniel Kennedy told authorities he was having a dispute with his wife when he shot and killed his 25-year-old stepson Shawn Gentle, according to testimony Thursday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Kennedy, 43, pleaded not guilty to murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was ordered held in the Muscogee County Jail without bond on a single count of murder but given a $15,000 bond on the other charge.
Columbus Police Sgt. Daniel Lyon said officers were called around 4:45 a.m. Sept. 2 to a shooting on 4913 20th Ave. Officials found Gentle at the scene suffering from a gunshot wound to the neck. He was pronounced dead at 5:12 a.m.
Gentle’s mother and stepfather were also at the scene. Police said the mother told police that she just heard the gunshot and then saw her son bleeding, Lyon said.
According to police, Kennedy initially told them that he was clearing his gun when Gentle startled him. He said he turned and dropped the gun on the floor, which caused it to discharge and the bullet to strike Gentle.
Lyon said the defendant was then taken to police headquarters, where he was asked to give a detailed account of what happened.
During the police interview, Kennedy said he got into a dispute with his wife around 3 a.m. and then left the house to “cool down.” He reportedly returned an hour later and they continued to argue.
“The first story was that he wanted to make the house safe since he knew there was a loaded gun in the dresser,” Lyon testified. “He wanted to clear it.”
He said that’s when he was startled and noticed someone behind him in the doorway. He turned around to look and dropped the gun, according to his statement to police.
Lyon said detectives told him that his account of the incident was inaccurate due to the layout of the room where the shooting occurred and the path of the bullet. Police said Kennedy then changed his story and stated that the gun was in his hand when he was startled and it discharged.
“Daniel was confronted with the blood splatter on the firearm proving that he was in close proximity to Shawn,” Lyon testified. “He later changed the story that he was angry at his wife and was going to confront her with a firearm, and shot Shawn at that time.”
Police said Kennedy cleared his 9 mm handgun immediately after the shooting and then tried to help his stepson.
“He was asked why the first thing he did was to clear his gun and not render aid,” Lyon testified. “He said he knew that police were going to get the gun, and he wanted all of the bullets together so that was his first priority.”
The case was bound over to Superior Court.