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Parents of Boy, 4, Who Shot Friend Must Pay $572K

Gun that killed 6-year-old was under a bed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2016 4:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – A New Jersey man whose 4-year-old son shot a playmate dead with an unsecured gun served nine months in prison last year—but he hasn't finished paying for the negligence that led to the 6-year-old boy's death. On Monday, a judge ordered Anthony Senatore and his wife, Melissa, to pay $572,588.26 compensatory damages to the parents of Brandon Holt, NJ.com reports. Senatore admitted keeping a loaded .22-caliber rifle under his bed, where his son found it, the AP reports. Senatore's son shot Brandon in the head during a game of "pretend shooting" outside the Senatores' Toms River home in April 2013.

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The judge will rule next month on punitive damages, though he says they will be based on the couple's ability to pay. The trial in the wrongful death lawsuit lasted just two hours, since Senatore did not dispute his role in the boy's death. During the trial, Christine Holt, Brandon's mother, gave heartbreaking testimony about how she tried to comfort her gravely injured son, reports CBS News. "I was just rubbing his legs telling him I was there, telling him to breathe 'cause he was trying to breathe," she told the court. "I just kept telling him I loved him." After the verdict, she said it wasn't really about the money. "I just want everyone to now just lock up your guns," she said. "That's what it was about today—just lock up your guns." (Read more child shootings stories.)

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