Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Teen gets 2 years' probation in fatal shooting

Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 11:24 AM
Last updated Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 1:30 AM
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A 14-year-old Grovetown boy who shot and killed a 13-year-old girl on Halloween was sentenced to two years’ probation Friday morning in Columbia County Juvenile Court.

Christian Neibel, 14, leaves the courtroom with his father after being sentenced to 24 months' probation in the shooting death of 13-year-old Kristen Burnette.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Christian Neibel, 14, leaves the courtroom with his father after being sentenced to 24 months' probation in the shooting death of 13-year-old Kristen Burnette.

In addition, Christian Neibel must undergo continued counseling and attend the juvenile court’s class on decision-making, as sentenced by Judge Doug Flanagan.

Juvenile Court prosecutor Rodney Brown said the shooting of Kristen Burnette, 13, in her home was accidental.

Neibel and two other teens were at Burnette’s home that evening, with no adults present, to watch a movie, Brown said. When the movie ended, Neibel and another boy started “milling through the house” while Burnette sat in the dining room at a laptop computer.

Neibel and the boy found a 12-gauge shotgun lying on top of a gun case in the master bedroom of the home, and after checking it thought the gun was unloaded, Brown said. The other boy went to the bathroom, and heard a loud “boom.”

That sound was the shotgun discharging as Neibel pointed it at Burnette and pulled the trigger, Brown said. An autopsy later determined she died from being struck in the head by three pellets of buckshot.

Burnette’s mother, Ashley Lunsford, agreed that the shooting was unintentional.

“I know this was just an accident,” she said. “I’d like to see him go through some therapy and counseling, and maybe some firearms training to better understand how firearms work.”

Neibel’s attorney, Adam King, described the boy as “utterly devastated” by the death of his friend in what he called “a tragic, tragic accident.”

“He was playing with the gun. He shouldn’t have been,” King said, adding that Neibel had admitted to the shooting and taken responsibility from the start.

“This is a good young man,” King said. “This is a good child.... He’s never been in trouble, he’s never been arrested” and deserves a second chance, he said.

“I’m deeply sorry,” Neibel said.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first case the court has had like this for the last year and a half or two years,” said Flanagan. “This case, like the other cases, has to do with unsecured weapons in people’s homes.”

Burnette’s death followed the March 29, 2012 fatal shooting of Eleanor “Elle” Kelly, 13, in Harlem, by a 14-year-old boy, and the shooting death of 14-year-old Alana May Calahan in Harlem Jan. 31, 2011.

Flanagan also instructed Brown to arrange for Neibel to visit schools to talk about the consequences of improper use of firearms.

“I think other people his age will be a lot better hearing it from him,” he said.

Comments (36) Add comment
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Frita's Boss
180
Points
Frita's Boss 02/08/13 - 12:51 pm
12
6
C'mon AC

Take his dang picture down! The kid is 14.

Tragic all the way around.

Farmboy
954
Points
Farmboy 02/08/13 - 01:01 pm
10
5
I Agree With Frita's Boss

He is only 14 and probably scared to death. You could let the picture go.

Jake
32770
Points
Jake 02/08/13 - 01:09 pm
13
1
Picture

I don't know about removing his picture. I think it sends a powerful visual message about youth, innocence and remorse. My son is his age and when I look at the photo it breaks my heart to think of the tragedy that is involved for all of the families concerned. Parents, if you have weapons in your home then please secure them.

GiantsAllDay
9699
Points
GiantsAllDay 02/08/13 - 01:36 pm
4
12
Frita's boss and Farmboy

Surely you must know by now that this is the way the AC rolls.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/08/13 - 01:59 pm
6
1
Hope he can move forward and

Hope he can move forward and bring positive energy back into his life. And further, I hope he knows that nobody is judging him or passing a judgement on him for the accident. Condolences for both families. God-speed Kristen.

specsta
6519
Points
specsta 02/08/13 - 03:39 pm
5
2
Interesting...

Well, this is a bit different. A child who was actually charged and sentenced as a child - and not as an adult? Maybe there is hope for this society...

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 02/08/13 - 02:25 pm
5
1
People, if you own a firearm,

People, if you own a firearm, KEEP IT SECURED! This senseless tragedy could and should have been prevented. With the right to own firearms comes a responsibility to treat them for what they are - a weapon of deadly force that must be kept out of the hands of those who are not trained in basic firearms safety. If you are not going to keep firearms in a safe and secure location, get rid of them now!

MsLL
13
Points
MsLL 02/08/13 - 02:34 pm
11
0
Sad, sad, sad.

Sad, sad, sad.

matthew.jones
19
Points
matthew.jones 02/08/13 - 02:55 pm
10
1
I feel bad for the girl's

I feel bad for the girl's family.

Chigger Hill Man
159
Points
Chigger Hill Man 02/08/13 - 02:51 pm
14
2
I hear what y'all are saying

About gun security, but I have a question. Is "milling around" someone's house an accepted practice when you are visiting a home where you don't live?

billie.boswell
14
Points
billie.boswell 02/08/13 - 02:53 pm
8
1
I feel bad for both families:

I feel bad for both families: the girl's and the boy's.

Tashyria.Shepherd
12
Points
Tashyria.Shepherd 02/08/13 - 02:53 pm
8
1
I feel bad for the boy, he is

I feel bad for the boy, he is only 14 and he is going through alot. But I could also understand what the girls parents are through as well. I just feel bad for everyone in this situation.

jenise.thompson156
11
Points
jenise.thompson156 02/08/13 - 02:54 pm
7
1
This story is devastating to

This story is devastating to read about, & a tragic loss to her family.

khalist
13
Points
khalist 02/08/13 - 02:55 pm
9
2
This situtation is really

This situtation is really sad. If there was an adult around, none of this would have happened.

Pha Legrier
16
Points
Pha Legrier 02/08/13 - 03:24 pm
6
4
Sad

This Is Just Sad Thats Why You Dont Play With Guns SAD. And Dont Let Them Walk Around Thats Your Parents Things Not Their's.

andrew.reimche
20
Points
andrew.reimche 02/08/13 - 03:15 pm
6
1
Hopefully this won't mess up

Hopefully this won't mess up his life forever and that both of the families will recover.

Zhakiayh.Devoe
23
Points
Zhakiayh.Devoe 02/08/13 - 02:56 pm
2
8
It is what is, he had to get

It is what is, he had to get charged one way or the other. Glad justice is served for the young girls' parents..

marquis.miller
11
Points
marquis.miller 02/08/13 - 02:56 pm
1
3
I feel bad

I feel bad

TeeHarrison
12
Points
TeeHarrison 02/08/13 - 02:57 pm
5
14
I'm starting go for the

I'm starting go for the weapon ban that the President is thinking about,Maybe things like this wouldnt happen anymore.

patrick.bolick
18
Points
patrick.bolick 02/08/13 - 02:58 pm
7
2
I hope that both families can

I hope that both families can get through this hard time.

rpsentell
10
Points
rpsentell 02/08/13 - 03:09 pm
2
1
Feel sorry for the families.

Feel sorry for the families. Hopefully they can recover

edo.douglass15
16
Points
edo.douglass15 02/08/13 - 03:11 pm
10
2
The gun should not have been

The gun should not have been loaded or in a reachable place for anyone in the house, except the owner, to get their hands on.

crowe
22
Points
crowe 02/08/13 - 03:17 pm
3
0
RECOVERY SMOOTH

Hoping both families recovery goes very smooth.

AutumnLeaves
8092
Points
AutumnLeaves 02/08/13 - 04:14 pm
3
1
I don't understand....

So many incidents local and national, in which the gun owner is not sufficiently securing a gun or guns and it has resulted in tragedy. Wake up people. Secure your guns!

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 02/08/13 - 04:38 pm
7
0
This is truly sad for both

This is truly sad for both families but why were 13 and 14 year old boys and girls allowed to be at her home alone in the evening to watch a movie. Why wasn't at least one adult or older teen there for supervision.

KSL
131379
Points
KSL 02/08/13 - 06:52 pm
8
1
Why would teenagers, or for

Why would teenagers, or for that matter anyone, think they have free reign in someone else's house.

Label me old fashioned, but no teenager of mine would be entertaining the opposite sex unchaperoned in my house.

KSL
131379
Points
KSL 02/08/13 - 08:22 pm
9
2
The problem is not one of

The problem is not one of securing guns. I grew up around guns and was taught to have a healthy respect. The problem is with the rearing of children. The girl should never have allowed her guests going where they had no business being. The problem is the lack of teaching someone that they should never, never point a gun at anyone unless they feel the need to defend themselves or someone else.

My brother got a 22 rifle for Christmas when he was 12.

KSL
131379
Points
KSL 02/08/13 - 08:33 pm
8
1
Somehow, I did not fear for

Somehow, I did not fear for my life. I knew he was was educated about guns.

single parent
395
Points
single parent 02/09/13 - 04:13 am
3
2
Give me a break!

The even below average 14 year old these days are on the same level as a 3rd year college student from the 80's. This is proof positive of how ignorance is rewarded ( 14 or 74 is there a difference). I seen nothing in the article about the young man being special or slow? So I can bet you all my houses he knew what he was doing PERIOD! Now if it had of been some young man/lady on the streets dealing or at a club the opinion would have been fry them. For you people that ask where were the parents? He and they are 14 not 4 ok and they know this, so that is the actual problem with SOCIETY. Candy coating crap to make it appear correct! Sympathy my rump. You know how many 14 year olds run a criminal enterprise or a thriving business?
So now this goes out across the nation and what do you think the next case or people already locked up are thinking right now that are 14 ? Yeah, nobody addresses that !

"Oh I forgot to not step off that cliff" So if you are that socially stupid then you might need to get out of said society and the parent that allowed you to become that way needs to follow<<<<<

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 02/09/13 - 09:21 am
0
0
And justice for all?
Unpublished

How do you point a shotgun at the back of a 13 year old friend's head and pull the trigger. Unintentional? No accident for certain? Had he fallen down some stairs and the gun discharged, unintentional. He did something he knew was not right and the result was a tragic death. The death of an innocent child. We wonder if she had been facing him, would he have pulled the trigger. He checked to see if it was loaded. What was the motive for his actions? If in fact unloaded, would she have even heard the "click". What was his INTENTION? CC is big on INTENTION. If it were to do "no harm", why? What game was he playing? And as for the "God Speed" to the victim comment, you have a sick mind. Kristen wanted to live.

Blaming anyone and anything other that the guilty is why we have these tragedies. Young people learn from experiences. Kristen is in heaven, so it is okay. Christian is a good boy so he is innocent of involuntary manslaughter. God did not take Kristen's life and Christian has a problem.

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