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Expert: Teen's gun couldn't have fired by itself

Nathaniel Brazill
Brazill says in this videotaped confession that Grunow "pushed me away and told me to go to class ... he was laughing, and that really made me mad."  

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- An FBI expert testified Monday that a gun used by a 13-year-old boy in the fatal shooting of a middle school teacher could not have gone off accidentally.

That contradicts a defense claim that Nathaniel Brazill, now 14, did not intend to fire the shot that killed Lake Worth Community Middle School teacher Barry Grunow on the last day of school last year.

Carlo J. Rosati, a physical scientist from the FBI laboratory testifying for the prosecution, was asked if the gun could have gone off from just being held or if Brazill had been shaking. To both questions, he answered, "No sir, that can not happen."

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A defense gun and ammunition expert concurred.

Under cross-examination, Lama S. Martin, who runs an unaccredited gun testing lab from his home, was asked if the gun could have gone off if Brazill's hand was shaking.

"I don't believe it would," Martin answered.

Earlier, defense attorney Robert Udell had told CNN, "Guns go off in this country unintentionally every single day and that's what occurred in this case."

Rosati's testimony followed the playing of a videotaped statement taken shortly after the shooting in which Brazill admitted the gun fired as he was pointing it at Grunow.

The prosecution believes the tape will persuade the jury that Brazill shot on purpose and should be convicted of first-degree murder.

Defense attorney Robert Udell believes the taped testimony shows Brazill pointed the gun only to show he was serious, and that it went off accidentally.

"Unintentional trigger pulls happen more often in times of stress," Martin testified.

Brazill's attorneys have said they plan to put him on the stand later this week, possibly Thursday.

"If (members of the jury) think he's a bad kid, they're going to find him guilty," Udell said, "If they think he's a fine young man, they'll give that some consideration in determining what crime occurred here."

On the tape, Brazill told police he did not mean to hurt Grunow. "Me and Mr. Grunow, we were like good friends," he said.

Brazill described loading the gun with five bullets at his grandfather's house the weekend before the Friday shooting.

"I kept the safety on," Brazill said. "I put it in my bag [backpack]."

Later in the tape, which was made public last summer, Brazill described what happened when he told Grunow he wanted to talk to a girl in his classroom.

"I asked him if I could speak to them. He told me -- he told me no, he pushed me away and told me to go to class, and he had a smile on his face and he was laughing, and that really made me mad," Brazill said in the tape.

"OK, so what did you do then?" asked a detective.

"I don't really remember," Brazill replied.

"OK."

"I can't really remember. I think I pulled out the gun. I was like checking the lock. I was already holding it, and I was fixing to drop it, and I didn't know what was going to happen if I would have dropped it. It all went from there," Brazill said.

Prosecutors argue that in addition to being angry that Grunow would not let him inside the classroom, Brazill also was angry because he had been sent home for misbehaving earlier in the day and because he had recently received a failing grade.

Grunow was married and the father of two children.



RELATED STORIES:
Classmate: Teen made death threat before shooting
May 4, 2001
Jury in teen's trial sees videotape of shooting
May 3, 2001
Friend says she saw teen-ager pull trigger
May 2, 2001
Florida teen offered plea in teacher shooting
April 17, 2001
Grand jury weighs charging 13-year-old as adult in teacher shooting
June 12, 2000

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