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Shooting victim's parents charged

January 10, 2002

Shooting victim's parents charged



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI
kimy@herald-mail.com


The parents of a 6-year-old Clear Spring girl who was accidentally shot to death by her 8-year-old brother will face misdemeanor charges in connection with the child's death.

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Cassey Yost died Nov. 30, 2001, when a shotgun held by her 8-year-old brother, Austin, discharged, striking her in the head at the family's 12072 National Pike home, Maryland State Police said.

On Tuesday, the girl's parents, Patricia Mae Yost, 26, and Alan Frederick Yost, 27, were each served with a criminal summons charging them with allowing their minor children access to firearms and contributing to a certain condition of a child.

Patricia and Alan Yost do not have a listed phone number and couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

"The charges won't change what happened but it will give us an opportunity to educate the public," said state police Sgt. Steve Ganley.

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A loaded 9mm handgun was on the nightstand in the oldest child's bedroom, Ganley alleged. He said several rifles and ammunition were found around the house and rifles were on the kitchen floor and leaning against a wall in the living room.

Ammunition was found on the television in the living room and on the floor in the bedroom, he said.

On the night of the shooting, Cassie, Austin and a younger brother, Ajay, 21/2, were playing in an upstairs bedroom and their parents were downstairs, police said.

"The boy told me he thought they saw something out the window so he loaded his single-shot shotgun," said Ganley. "He also loaded a rifle."

After a few minutes, the boy unloaded the rifle, Ganley said. He said he laid the shotgun on the bed and told his sister to unload it, Ganley said.

The boy, thinking his sister had unloaded the shotgun, picked up the weapon and it went off, striking her in the head, Ganley said.

The guns and the ammunition should have been locked up where the children couldn't get to them, he said.

"Guns are fascinating to people of all ages," Ganley said.

The charges are about public safety and police aren't taking sides on the issue of gun control, Ganley said. "It's about responsibility," he said.

When the Yosts were served with the criminal summons they were upset but didn't appear to blame the police, Ganley said.

A 20-year state police veteran, and father of two, Ganley said "this case was difficult for everyone involved."

A conviction on a charge of allowing a minor access to firearms is punishable by a $1,000 fine and a conviction on a charge of contributing to a certain condition of a child is punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to 3 years in jail.

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