MONTICELLO, N.Y. – A New York City hunter pleaded guilty to manslaughter Friday for firing a bullet that killed a 16-month-old girl inside her grandparents' trailer in the Catskill Mountains.
Edward Taibi, 46, of Queens, entered his plea and apologized to the girl's family in court just as his trial was scheduled to begin in rural Sullivan County.
"This was a travesty and a tragedy that has changed the lives of two people and two families forever," Taibi said outside the courtroom. "I hope one day it brings some kind of closure to the family, some peace and closure in their lives."
Taibi was in a tree stand Nov. 16 when he shot a deer. He climbed down from the stand and fired his .30-caliber rifle a second time about 400 feet away from the trailer in Swan Lake, about 80 miles northwest of New York City.
The bullet ripped through the wall of the trailer and struck Charly Ann Skala in her right shoulder and neck. She was flown to a hospital, where she died later.
State law forbids the firing of a gun within 500 feet of a home or business unless the hunter owns or leases the property, or has the owner's consent. Taibi was friends with the owner of the neighboring property and had hunted there before.
Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen said the tree stand established a line of fire away from the houses and pointed toward woods in the opposite direction, but Taibi could have still seen the homes from the stand.
Taibi will be sentenced to two to eight years in prison in October. Judge Frank Labuda said he delayed sentencing to correspond with hunting season in hopes of sending a message to other hunters.