A California handyman was sentenced to ten years in prison for accidentally killing his girlfriend with a homemade cannon.
Richard Dale Fox, 41, was loading a steel tube with firework powder when it went off in 2012. The explosion sent shrapnel ripping through his Petrero trailer, killing his long-time girlfriend, 38-year-old Jeanette Ogara.
The couple’s 4-year-old daughter Vanessa was also home. She was unharmed in the blast.
Fox pleaded guilty in July to felony charges of building and firing a destructive device. He initially faced a murder charge but it was dropped, the New York Daily News reported. An El Cajon judge sentenced him Monday.
At the emotional hearing, Ogara’s family accused him of “stupidity.” They claimed he had a history of drug use and criminal background that made him dangerous.
"This doesn't surprise me whatsoever that he finally caused someone to die, be it intentionally or not," Ogara's brother, Anthony Ogara, said in court. "This was known he was going to do this to somebody, somehow, somewhere and here it's my sister now."
"We have suffered a lot and we are still suffering," said the victim’s mother, Marisa Salyer. "And I think he should pay for his stupidity."
"Please forgive me. I never meant to hurt anyone," a tearful Fox told the court Monday. "I lost the one person in the world that I loved the most."
Fox and Ogara dated for 11 years. The couple has two children, ages 4 and 13.
"I love you, Jeanette, forever. You're my best friend," Fox said. "I wish it would have been me instead. I'm sorry."
Before the fatal blast, Fox said he had fired off fireworks many times in the same fashion without incident.
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Epic Fireworks, NBC News