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Judge says jurors can see video of Uzi death

Edward Fleury, the former police chief, was charged because he owned a company that cosponsored the gun fair. Edward Fleury, the former police chief, was charged because he owned a company that cosponsored the gun fair. (Michael S. Gordon/ The Republican via Associated Press)
By Dave Collins
Associated Press / December 8, 2010

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SPRINGFIELD — A graphic video showing an 8-year-old boy accidentally killing himself with an Uzi submachine gun at a fair can be shown to the jury during the manslaughter trial of a former police chief, a judge ruled yesterday.

Hampden Superior Court Judge Peter Velis also ruled that the jury in Edward Fleury’s trial will hear the recording’s audio track at least up to the shooting, but Velis was still deciding whether to leave out some of the sound after the shooting of the boy’s screaming and his father praying aloud, hoping that his son is all right.

The video “would shock the conscience of any reasonable human being,’’ Velis said, adding that he has to be careful that the evidence does not prejudice jurors against Fleury.

“The greatest risk in this case is invoking any sympathy,’’ Velis said.

The video shows Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., losing control of the 9mm micro Uzi submachine gun during a 2008 gun fair at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club and accidentally shooting himself in the head, authorities say.

Fleury, the former Pelham police chief, was charged because he owned a company that cosponsored the gun fair, prosecutors said.

Jury selection in the case began yesterday and was expected to take several days. The judge said the trial could take up to two weeks. Fleury’s lawyer, Rosemary Curran Scapicchio, sought to have the video excluded from the trial, saying both sides agree that the boy shot himself and that the footage is too horrific for the jury to see.

Scapicchio had also asked the judge, if he allowed the video into evidence, to mute the sound.

In an unusual request, she also said that if the video was allowed as evidence, it should be shown to prospective jurors during selection so they could decide whether it was too emotionally wrenching for them to remain impartial.

Velis ruled the video would not be shown during selection. Instead, jurors were to be told they would see a graphic video.

Hampden District Attorney William Bennett said the video shows recklessness and chaos at the gun fair.

Christopher’s father, Dr. Charles Bizilj, recorded the video. After his son shot himself, he dropped the camera, and nothing much is visible, Velis said.