Katherine Hoover was five months pregnant with her son, Rehlin, when she was accidentally shot and killed by William DeHayes, a friend of her husband, Carson, in July 2014.
DeHayes was showing off an antique revolver, which he used to practice gun slinging tricks, to Carson. DeHayes spun the gun, put his finger on the trigger, and went to slide it back into his holster when the gun fired.
DeHayes said he never loaded the gun, but when the gun fired, Katherine was shot in the temple. She was rushed to the hospital, where she and Rehlin died. He survived just 30 minutes after being born via Caesarean section.
The Florida state prosecutor has decided not to press charges against DeHayes.
“They prosecute people for drowning dogs,” Katherine’s mother, Donna Bryan, told The Daily Beast. "Do you know how this makes me feel?"
Bryan is petitioning the state attorney, Brad King, and other officials to charge DeHayes with involuntary manslaughter.
“There is no evidence to suggest the [sic] DeHayes had a careless or reckless indifference to the safety of the victims when the firearm discharged,” assistant state attorney Brad Magrino wrote in his recommendation not to prosecute. DeHayes would have had to pull the trigger intentionally to charge him with any criminal action.
DeHayes' attorney, Brad King, wrote, “Just as it is my duty to prosecute those who violate the law, it is equally my duty to refrain from prosecuting those whose conduct, no matter how outrageous, does not constitute a crime.”
Carson is considering civil action against DeHayes. “I know William wouldn’t have done something like this on purpose, but I’ve lost two very special people in my life that I can never get back because of his negligence,” he said. “I want to see justice done.”
DeHayes did not respond to requests for comment and it’s unclear if he still practices old-west style gunslinging - which is why he owned the revolver that killed Katherine in the first first place.
“This has to be prosecuted,” Bryan said. “No matter what, I’m not going to stop.”