On Probation For Accidental Gun Death, Man Violates Order On Facebook

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A Globe man once on probation for the accidental shooting death of a friend will now serve prison time after violating probation.

A judge initially put Fredrick Joseph Lavin, 24, on four years intensive probation after Lavin accidentally shot and killed a friend while target shooting. The judge ordered Lavin not to use or possess weapons while on probation.

However, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office found a picture of Lavin on Facebook, posing with a rifle on a hunt. That prompted Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill to sentence Lavin on Oct. 31 to an additional five years in prison, including 2.5 years for negligent homicide and 2.5 years for weapons misconduct. The judge also reinstated a year of probation in a separate forgery case for violating the terms of his probation.

In a presentencing report, Lavin told a probation officer that he was only posing with the rifle and deer and that someone else had posted the photo online.

He said he had been given a “raw deal,” by being charged with weapons misconduct and that he thought about the death of his friend every day.

Fatal shot

In February 2008, Lavin and friends Kyle Keller and Ryan McKelvy reportedly went shooting in a rural area known as Lavin’s Wash, north of Globe. The men, all age 20, were target shooting with an AK-47 and a handgun.

According to a police report, McKelvy shot the handgun, put two bullets in it, set it down and wandered away to play with his dog.

McKelvy told officers that he had told his friends the gun was loaded, but wasn’t sure if they had heard him.

Lavin picked up the gun and assumed it was unloaded, the report states.

“He pointed it in an unspecified direction and pulled the trigger to dry fire it,” the police report states. The bullet hit Keller in the head and killed him.

Responding deputies found a bag of marijuana on the ground near Keller. Lavin later admitted they had intended to smoke it, but had not done so before the shooting, the report states.

Lavin told a probation officer that he relives the shooting daily and “feels terrible when he sees the victim’s family, as he has known them all his life.”

Through a victim’s advocate, Keller’s family told the court in 2009 that they would like to see Lavin serve the maximum probation term and not prison time.

Cahill sentenced Lavin to four years probation and a year in jail.

In the case’s presentencing report, Lavin’s attorney Michael Bernays said, “Freddie and his family are so aware and knowledgeable about guns that they considered the current offense a horrible accident, rather than a criminal offense.”

After the shooting, Lavin reportedly committed several other offenses. In one case, Lavin was sentenced for forgery after falsifying community service records.

Then on or about Nov. 4, 2011, a Gila County Sheriff’s Office detective met with an Arizona Game and Fish officer after the detective discovered a photo of Lavin posing with a rifle and three-point buck on Facebook.

The detective told the Game and Fish officer that Lavin was a “prohibited possessor” at the time the photo was taken. Record’s show Lavin had been drawn for a permit that year.

Later that month, the probation officer filed a petition to revoke Lavin’s probation.

When Lavin failed to make an April court date, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. In July, an officer arrested Lavin on the warrant and he was placed in jail awaiting sentencing.

On Sept. 17, Lavin pleaded guilty to the probation violations and in a pre-sentencing interview, admitted to using marijuana, meth and heroin.

“Mr. Lavin stated he thinks his friend’s death is what triggers him to use drugs,” wrote the probation officer.

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