Ten-year-old Eric Klyaz died in June after he was accidentally shot while playing with a gun in his neighborâs garage. The neighbor, Todd Francis, is now facing charges of accidental manslaughter; key witnesses spoke in Wednesdayâs preliminary hearing.
Francis, accompanied by his wife and teenage son, listened to the testimony as he wiped tears from his eyes.
On the day of the accident, Klyaz was playing with Francisâ 9-year-old daughter in the garage of the defendantsâ home in San Diego. The children discovered a firearm, and began to play with it. The gun fired, shooting a fatal bullet into Klyazâs chest.
San Diego Police Officer Vito Messineo interviewed Francisâ daughter immediately after the incident, and testified about their conversation.
According to Messineo, he asked the girl what had happened. âShe answered, âWe were inside the garage playing, it was just us. There was a gun sitting on top of the couch and we were both touching it. Then it fired and it was pointing at Eric.ââ
The officer also asked her who had been holding the gun. She responded, âWell, we were both holding it. I donât really remember. It was just there and we both had it.â
Francisâs teenage son was watching the kids that day, as his parents were away from home. Francis insisted that the gun had not been loaded. âHe said, âI just want to let you know that the gun was hidden and I know for sure it was not loaded. I guess I shouldâve secured it better. If that kid dies, I donât want to live anymore,ââ testified Messineo.
Francis had reportedly hidden the gun case behind the water heater in the garage, and says he repeatedly told the children not to touch anything in there. He also claims that the ammunition was stored in a separate location.
Francis is an ex-employee of the TSA, and had recently lived in Las Vegas before moving back to San Diego. He is also the brother of Steve Francis, who once ran for mayor of San Diego.