An elderly man accused of killing his grandson is asking the courts for the opportunity to get out of prison while awaiting trial.
Seventy-six year-old Larry Karnes of Connoquenessing has been incarcerated in the Butler County Prison without the possibility of bail since his arrest on Sept. 28.
Then, Karnes allegedly shot and killed 19-year-old Austin Riddell with a .22-caliber rifle following an argument at their house on Sunset Drive. The defendant reportedly claims he was holding the gun to scare his 200-pound grandson, and the shooting was an accident.
In court documents filed last week Karnes’ defense attorney Terri Schultz asks the courts to set a bond for her client, who she described as having serious health problems.
According to the documents, the crime “criminal homicide” under state law must be classified as murder or manslaughter. And only those classified as death penalty murders or homicides that indicate the community would be at further risk are not entitled to the possibility of posting bail before a trial is held.
Prosecutors in the Butler County District Attorney’s Office have not yet classified which type of homicide conviction they are seeking in Karnes’ case.
Schultz’s written motion further alleges that evidence presented during Karnes’ preliminary hearing, which was held Oct. 9 before District Judge Wayne Seibel in Evans City, “does not provide a basis for a capital offense, nor has there been any indication that the Commonwealth intends to proceed with this case as a capital case.”
Assistant District Attorney Mark Lope, who is prosecuting this case, declined comment.
Prosecutors have until the point of formal arraignment to determine if they will seek the death penalty in a pending homicide case.
Karnes’ formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 20 before Butler County Judge Timothy McCune.