A felony manslaughter charge has been filed in connection with the shooting death of a St. Paul Park man.
Washington County prosecutors charged Bernard F. Poston Jr., 22, of St. Paul, with second-degree manslaughter in the Aug. 10 death of 20-year-old Regino M. Nitti in a St. Paul Park apartment.
St. Paul Park police said immediately after the incident that Nitti was shot when the gun “inadvertently discharged.” Washington County District Court records allege Poston didn’t know a shotgun was loaded when he picked it up and aimed it at Nitti, but then he fled the scene after briefly providing first aid to a dying Nitti.
According to the criminal complaint filed in court:
Nitti, Poston and two other men were at Nitti’s apartment in the 1100 block of Fifth Street late on Aug. 9 and early Aug. 10. Poston told a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator that they were drinking, smoking marijuana and watching TV when he took a pistol-gripped shotgun from a closet.
The gun’s safety was not on but Poston thought it was not loaded. He pointed it at Nitti and the gun “went off,” the complaint says. Nitti was hit in the shoulder and fell to the ground.
The other two men told investigators they saw that Nitti had been shot and Poston was holding the gun. They ran from the apartment.
After shooting Nitti, the complaint says, Poston put pressure on the wound for about three minutes. When Nitti started coughing up blood and bleeding out, Poston left the apartment without calling 911 or getting other help. Nitti died in the apartment.
The felony manslaughter charges alleges Poston caused Nitti’s death “by culpable negligence” by creating an unreasonable risk and consciously took chances that caused his death.
Poston is scheduled to appear in Washington County District Court on Oct. 24.
The maximum penalty for a second-degree manslaughter conviction is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.